In medieval Europe, a subdivision of the hour = 1/10 point. Some sources, such as Bede, say it is 1/40th of an hour, that is, 1½ minutes; others say 1/50th.



Recipit autem hora IV punctos, X minuta, XV partes, XL momenta, et in quibusdam lunæ computis V punctos.

An [equinoctial]  hour has 4 points, 10 minuta, 15 parts, 40 moments, and in some lunar calculations 5 points.

De Temporum Ratione.
Chapter 3, De Minutissimus Temporum Spatiis.
Written in the 8th century; published at Basel in 1529.

Bede notes that a momentum was also used by astrologers, with a different meaning, .002 degrees:

...dum Zodiacum circulum in XII signa, signa singula in partes XXX, partes item singulas in punctos XII, punctos singulos in momenta XL, momenta singula in ostenta LX distribuunt...

..they divide the zodiacal circle into 12 signs, each sign into 30 partes, each part into 12 punctii, each punctus into 40 momenta, and each momentum into 60 ostenta.



An hour [contains] foure poyntis, & a point ten momentis. & a mohent twelve vncis and an vnce xlvii attomos.

Bartholomaeus Anglicus.
John Trevisa, translator.
De Proprietatibus Rerum.
A modern critical edition in 3 volumes: Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975-c1988.
The original edition: London, 1582.
The manuscript: (BL Add.) f. 124, 1398.


The devision of tyme.

Of Atmos ben made the momentes, of momentes ben made the mynutes / of mynutes ben made the degrees / Of degrees the quarters of houres / of quarters of houres the halfe houres/ of half houres the houres/

Giles Du Wés.
An introductorie for to lerne to rede, to pronounce, and to speake Frenche trewly.
[London: By Thomas Godfray, 1553.]
We have omitted the interlinear French.


Who gouernes thee, point, moment, minute, houre.

Richard Brathwaite.
Natures Embassie, or, The Wilde-mans measures : danced naked by twelve satyres, with sundry, etc.
[London]: Printed for Richard Whitaker, 1621.


The word used in translating the Hebrew word helek into English. In rabbinical reckoning (based on the lunar month): 1/1080 of an hour (3 & 1/3 seconds).


The meaning therof is thus: In their common year (when a whole month is not inserted) if the point of the change happen upon the third day of the week, that is, Tuesday, not before the ninth hour, and the 204 moment of an hour, than the New Moon shall be translated to Thursday.

Note in the last place, (k) that 1080 moments make an hour.

Thomas Godwin.
Moses & Aaron: civil and ecclesiastical rites, used by the ancient Hebrews : observed, and at large opened, for the clearing of many obscure texts thorowout the whole Scripture; etc. 12th edition.
London: Printed for R. Scot, T. Basset, J. Wright, R. Chiswel, B. Griffen, G. Connyers, and M. Wotton, 1685.
Book III, chapter VII. Page 126-127. First edition was 1625.


A second. In particular, in the 18th century the second-hand of a clock was sometimes called the moment-hand.


Moment. Sometimes signifies an instant, as indivisible, as χίνημα, which in motion answers to an instant in time, or a point in a line, Aristot. Phys. In this sense I use it, Psychathan. lib. 3. cant. 2. stanz. 16. But in a moment sol doth ray. But Cant. the 3. Stanz. 45. v. 2 I understand, as also doth Lansbergius, by a moment one second of a minute. In Antipsych. Cant. 2. Stanz. the 20. v. 2. by a moment I understand a minute, or indefinitely any small time.

Henry More.
Democritus Platonissans, or, an Essay upon the Infinity of Worlds out of Platonick Principles.
Cambridge: Printed by Roger Daniel, Printer to the Universitie, 1646.
In the section “Particular Interpretation” under the headword “moment.”


A period of geological time corresponding to a stratigraphical zone (as defined by its fossil content).



Cinquième ordre. — Aucun comité n'a proposé d' expression chronologique pour cet  ordre de subdivision, soit pour désigner le temps de formation d' une zone. Il a paru au comité suisse que le terme de Moment, qui est aussi polyglotte, s' appliquerait ici très naturellement, et il le propose au Congrès.

E. Renevier, A. Heim, Alph. Favre, Aug. Jaccard, J. Bachmann., Edm. de Fellenberg, Albr. Muller, F. Muhlberg and Ch. Mayer-Eymar.
Rapport du Comité Suisse sur L'Unification de la nomenclature.
International Geological Congress (2nd : 1881 : Bologna, Italy)
Compte rendu de la 2me session, Bologne, 1881.
Bologne: Imprimerie Fava et Garagnani, 1882.
Page 542.

Prof. Diener, however, rejects the term [secule] in favour of an earlier, having prior claim: the word moment was proposed with precisely this meaning, to be the time-equivalent of a zone, by the Swiss Committee for the Unification of Nomenclature, at the International Geological Congress at Bologna in 1881.² Strictly speaking, therefore, ‘moment’ should take priority over secule, and Diener adopts it, with the variations time-moment and zone-moment.3 On the other hand, it may with justice be objected that the word ‘moment’ was already long ago preoccupied in ordinary parlance for an indefinite but certainly small fraction of time, and to misapply it to a period of many thousands of years duration is absurd.

2. Compte Rendu, 2nd session, Bologna, 1881. [See note 1 above]

3. C. Diener, 1918, Neues Jahrb. für Min., &c., Beilage Bd. xlii, p. 91; and 1925 Grundzüge der Biostratiggraphie, Vienna and Leipzig, pp. 217-218.

W. J. Arkell.
The Jurassic System in Great Britain.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933.
Page 21.


Definition of such a biochronological unit is desirable in order to cover time intervals for which more than one zone has been defined on different paleontological evidence in different areas of sedimentation.

The need for this was felt early, and the first International Geological Congresses gave much consideration to questions of time and rock terminology at the stage and zone level. The matter was first discussed at the Congress in Bologna in 1881, where the only concrete suggestion came from the Swiss delegation (Renevier, 1882), which formally proposed ‘moment’ for the time equivalent of a zone.


The biochronological unit equivalent to the zone, for which the term moment is preferred, is for all practical purposes the smallest time interval for which geographical and biogeographical conditions of the past can be summarily described. The time interval varies probably between about half a million and 5 million years.

Renevier, E. et al., 1882, Rapport du comité suisse sur l'unification de la nomenclature: Cong. Internat. Géol.. Bologne, 1881. [See note 1, above]

Curt Teichert.
Some biostratigraphical concepts.
Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, vol. 69, pages 113 and 117 (January 1958).


A zone is defined as strata deposited during an interval of time (known as a secule or moment, though these terms are not widely used) throughout which a particular faunal or floral assemblage existed.

George Mills Bennison and Alan E. Wright.
Geological History of the British Isles.
London: Edward Arnold, 1969.
Page 23.

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