Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Assuming that time zero was the big bang and "time" before that did not exist, what is the term to describe something that has existed since "time" began and will continue till "time" ends. I understand that realistically we might never use this term. (Big bang is just a reference, I just wanted to refer to the "beginning of time")

We have terms like omnipresent and omniscient, for place and knowledge/information, but what about time?

Do eternal or sempiternal correctly define it? Is there a word like omnichronos?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by TimLymington, Robusto, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, Matt Эллен, Mahnax Jan 6 '12 at 18:59

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Did you find the dictionary definition of eternal unclear? –  TimLymington Jan 6 '12 at 13:02
1  
Did you find a word like omichronos in any dictionary? Also, if you look up eternal you'll see it means "without beginning or end," so it is not limited to the future. –  Robusto Jan 6 '12 at 13:27
1  
It would be spelled omnichronous … if it existed. –  MετάEd Jan 6 '12 at 15:01
2  
I'm voting to reopen. So far as I'm concerned the jury is still out on the most suitable term, and ELU is a relatively sophisticated adjudicator on such matters. Frankly, I think it's ludicrous to close the question on the grounds OP should have just Googled it. And what? Found "Eternal" really is the "right" word? More likely "Grammar Nazis discovered hiding in ELU" –  FumbleFingers Jan 6 '12 at 22:35
1  
Is this existential question any the inferior to "What's the correct term for the word potato chips?"? [english.stackexchange.com/questions/53873/… I would like this to reopen, as well. –  Kris Jan 10 '12 at 10:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Eternal" means not only endless future but also endless past. It derives from Latin aeviternus, "of great age".¹ It is commonly used in this sense. For example, Google [ eternal father ], and you will find that the phrase is often used to mean a supernatural being said to exist for all time. (The Navy and the Mormons are particularly fond of it.)

The other word which pretty well fills the bill for both the past and the future is "ageless".

share|improve this answer
1  
From the dictionary on my computer ... Everlasting refers to something that will continue to exist once it is created, while eternal implies that it has always existed and will continue to exist in the future. –  GEdgar Jan 6 '12 at 16:24

I think words like everlasting and eternal are firmly rooted in the religious framework that primarily associates these qualities with God.

Since OP defines the "beginning of time" as the Big Bang, rather than part of the biblical act of creation, I think a "secular/scientific" term might be more appropriate...

atemporal - independent of or unaffected by time, timeless.

I would say anything which exists independent of time must de facto exist throughout all time.

share|improve this answer
1  
Or independence of time and existence for all time may be mutually exclusive. –  MετάEd Jan 6 '12 at 20:21

Though in Medieval theology, "eternal" was understood to mean "existing outside of time", rather than "existing since the beginning of time". It's an important distinction in theological and philosophical discussions.

share|improve this answer
    
That's an interesting point. Is there an online source for this? –  MετάEd Jan 6 '12 at 20:03
    
@MetaEd: Several dictionaries I checked list this as one of the definitions. For example, see dictionary.reference.com/browse/eternal, definition #4. Here's a discussion of the concept: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternity. And here: beliefnet.com/News/Science-Religion/2004/07/… –  Jay Jan 10 '12 at 16:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.