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in·stant / ˈinstənt/ • adj. 1. happening or coming immediately: the offense justified instant dismissal. ∎  (of food) processed to allow quick preparation: instant coffee. ∎  (of a person) becoming a specified thing immediately or very suddenly: become an instant millionaire. ∎  prepared quickly and with little effort: we can't promise instant solutions. ∎  producing immediate results: an instant lottery ticket. 2. urgent; pressing: an instant desire to blame others when things go wrong. 3. dated (in business letters) of the current month: your letter of the 6th instant. Compare with proximo, ultimo. 4. archaic of the present moment. • n. 1. a precise moment of time: come here this instant! at that instant the sun came out. 2. a very short space of time; a moment: for an instant the moon disappeared. 3. inf. instant coffee.

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INSTANT

Instant, the indivisible formal factor in time that measures substantial change. The partless instant continues and divides the parts of time; were it divisible into sub-instants, no distinction could be made between past and future. Moreover, because no two instants can be continuous or contiguous, a stretch of time must intervene between them. Yet the instant is in and of time: in time, as its term and measure; of time, since pluralized instants furnish its number. Furthermore, only the instant can measure substantial change. If substantial change occurred in a span of time, either primary matter devoid of act would actually exist for an interval, or an individual would be both dead and alive at one and the same time. At the limiting instant a thing is neither dying nor livingit has ceased to exist. Yet the instant of corruption is the starting-point for a new existent, since primary matter is never unactualized (see matter and form). In other words, there is no last instant of life, and there is no next instant following the instant of death, for between any two instants another instant is discernible. Thus as the limit of time, the instant measures substantial change, for a durationless change demands the durationless point of time.

[j. m. quinn]

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instant urgent XV; present (of time); of the current month; imminent, immediate XVI. — (O)F. instant assiduous, at hand — L. instāns, -ant-, prp. of instāre be present or at hand, urge, f. IN-1 + stāre STAND. As sb. point of time, moment XV; after medL.
Hence instantly †urgently; †just now XV; forthwith XVI. So instantaneous XVII. f. medL. instantāneus.

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INSTANT

Current or present.

When composing a legal brief, an attorney might use the phrase the instant case in reference to the case currently before the court to distinguish it from other cases discussed.