Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
"sixtieth part of an hour or degree," late 14c., from Old French minut (13c.) or directly from Medieval Latin minuta "minute, short note," from Latin minuta, noun use of fem. of minutus "small, minute" (see minute (adj.)). In Medieval Latin, pars minuta prima "first small part" was used by mathematician Ptolemy for one-sixtieth of a circle, later of an hour (next in order was secunda minuta, which became second (n.)). German Minute, Dutch minuut also are from French. Used vaguely for "short time" from late 14c. As a measure expressing distance (travel time) by 1886. Minute hand is attested from 1726.
early 15c., "chopped small," from Latin minutus "little, small, minute," past participle of minuere "to lessen, diminish" (see minus). Meaning "very small in size or degree" is attested from 1620s. Related: Minutely; minuteness.
in timekeeping, 60 seconds, now defined in terms of radiation emitted from atoms of the element cesium under specified conditions. The minute was formerly defined as the 60th part of an hour, or the 1,440th part (60 24 [hours] = 1,440) of a mean solar day-i.e., of the average period of rotation of the Earth relative to the Sun. The minute of sidereal time (time measured by the stars rather than by the Sun) was a fraction of a second shorter than the mean solar minute. The minute of atomic time is very nearly equal to the mean solar minute in duration