In one of my recent ‘idle thinking’ moments I wondered: ‘How long is “a moment”?’ Now, don’t worry: there is nothing wrong with ‘idle thinking’ – it can be the most creative time of the day (and, if put into action, a great opportunity to learn).

The trusty Macquarie Dictionary defines ‘moment’ as:

/ˈmoʊmənt/ (say ‘mohmuhnt) noun 1. an indefinitely short space of time; an instant: wait a moment. 2. the present or other particular instant: I cannot recall his name at the moment. 3. a definite stage, as in a course of events. 4. importance or consequence: of great moment. 5. Statistics: the average of a given power of the values of a set of variates. 6. Also, moment of force: the measure of the tendency of a force to cause rotation about an axis; the product of the force and the perpendicular distance from an axis.

[Middle English, from Latin mōmentum movement, moment of time, etc.]

Well, that wasn’t good enough for me … I wanted something better! There is so much information available via a Google search, so delving a little deeper was not a problem – it only took a few moments! I found that Wise Geek had some really cool (and concise) information for me:

The term is thought to date to the 14th century and was used to refer to a period of 90 seconds. An hour in medieval times, therefore, consisted of 40 moments. The Hebrew calendar has a shorter definition of a moment, referred to as rega, which is roughly equivalent to 5/144 of a second. In 1990, scientist and poet Miroslav Holub proposed the idea that a moment is about the average length of time it takes a person to read a line of verse.

Ninety seconds! Wow, that’s longer than I thought! And having an hour filled with 40 moments rather than 60 minutes … yeah, that works for me! Time will fly in much the same way it does, of course.

The Hebrew rega is another matter entirely. Less than the blink of an eye. For me, that would be my interpretation of ‘an instant’.

And, as for the ‘average length of time it takes a person to read a line of verse’, well, let’s not go there today! Perhaps there will be a blog sometime down the track talking about what ‘average’ is all about!

In your writing moments, consider sparing a few more moments (of the 90-second variety) to ask an editor to check your words before you submit them to the world at large – after all, it only takes a few moments!