an infinitesimal or very short space of time; a moment: They arrived not an instant too soon.
the point of time now present or present with reference to some action or event.
a particular moment: at the instant of contact.
a food or beverage, especially coffee, specially processed for quick preparation.
Older Use. the present or current month.
succeeding without any interval of time; prompt; immediate: instant relief from a headache.
pressing or urgent: instant need.
noting a food or beverage requiring a minimal amount of time and effort to prepare, as by heating or the addition of milk or water, before being served or used: instant coffee; instant pudding.
occurring, done, or prepared with a minimal amount of time and effort; produced rapidly and with little preparation: an instant book; instant answers; instant history.
designed to act or produce results quickly or immediately: an instant lottery.
Older Use. of the present month: your letter of the 12th instant. Abbreviation: inst. Compare proximo, ultimo.
present; current: the instant case before the court.

1350–1400; 1910–15; for def 8; Middle English < Latin instant- (stem of instāns) present participle of instāre to be present, urgent, equivalent to in- in-2 + -stā- stand + -nt- present participle suffix

1. second, twinkling, flash, jiffy, trice. See minute1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
instant (ˈɪnstənt)
1.  a very brief time; moment
2.  a particular moment or point in time: at the same instant
3.  on the instant immediately; without delay
4.  immediate; instantaneous
5.  (esp of foods) prepared or designed for preparation with very little time and effort: instant coffee
6.  urgent or imperative
7.  (postpositive) when abbreviated in formal correspondence
 a.  proximo Compare ultimo inst of the present month: a letter of the 7th instant
 b.  currently under consideration
8.  a poetic word for instantly
[C15: from Latin instāns, from instāre to be present, press closely, from in-² + stāre to stand]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "infinitely short space of time," from O.Fr. instant (adj.) "assiduous, at hand," from M.L. instantem (nom. instans), from L. instantem "present, pressing, urgent," prp. of instare "to urge, to stand near, be present (to urge one's case)," from in- "in" + stare "to stand," from PIE base *sta-
"to stand" (see stet). Elliptical use of the O.Fr. adj. as a noun. New Latinate adj. form instantaneous is attested from 1650s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
He glared at her a moment through the dusk, and the next instant she felt his arms about her, and his lips on her own lips.
Instant messaging services, which are in essence directories for keeping track of who is online at any moment, are even larger.
And investigators say that they are unable to monitor instant messaging.
Their visibility and prestige can give them instant friends and enemies on
  campus, either of which can provide distractions.
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