That is, an event which has some positive (possibly infinite) duration.

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    Event without any adjectives doesn't require or imply zero duration, so you could just use that.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 25, 2014 at 18:30
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    What is an instantaneous event? Mar 25, 2014 at 18:33
  • @Oldcat the problem is that I'm speaking in a domain where the word "event" already has a specific meaning, which is something like "an idealized instantaneous happening in time." Mar 25, 2014 at 18:47
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    If you are talking, by chance, about English language and usage, you might find this class handout useful in making distinctions. Mar 25, 2014 at 19:38
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    @John Lawler Some might find it useful even if OP is talking about broader concepts. Thank you. Mar 25, 2014 at 20:06

6 Answers 6


Process is defined as a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner.

Another source defines it as a series of changes that happen naturally.


Perhaps an "ongoing" event, or a "sustained" event?

"Continuous" event is another possibility.

  • +1, sometimes the simple answer is the correct answer! Also, enduring.
    – David M
    Mar 25, 2014 at 18:35
  • Ongoing and sustained are good adjectives, but I'm really looking for a single word which encapsulates the whole idea. Mar 25, 2014 at 18:43
  • Also, "ongoing" is not quite right because it implies that the event is currently still happening, which need not be the case; the event could have occurred in the past and come to an end. Mar 25, 2014 at 18:51

I would say that an event with a duration is an interval.

  • Hm, that's not bad! Mar 26, 2014 at 7:17
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    Except it's not quite right, because interval and synonyms like "period", "span", "spell", "term" all specifically denote chunks of time and nothing more, i.e. not events occurring within them. Every event-with-duration has an associated interval of time during which it occurs, but for any interval there might be many (or no) events which it delimits. Mar 26, 2014 at 7:28

In the app/programming world we refer to these as programs. An event has a duration. It doesn't have to be instantaneous or quick but it has a duration. When an event gets to a certain amount of time people no longer think of it as an event. I have done UI group tests and this seems to range from 2-3 days to a few weeks depending on context.

For events that are longer or that are really compromised of many natural sub-events we usually use the term program.

noun: programme; plural noun: programmes; noun: program; plural noun: programs

a planned series of future events, items, or performances.
  • An idealized mathematical notion of an instantaneous event has no duration. That is the meaning which is already attached to the word "event" in the domain I'm working in. Programs are, as your definition indicated, "planned", which is narrower than the meaning I'm going for. Not all events are planned, they can simply be things which happen and are measured, e.g. an earthquake. "Process" is closer to the meaning I'm going for. Mar 25, 2014 at 19:10

Durable or long-lived event perhaps.


Very interesting linguistic implications from this question! Because discourse is implicitly assumed to unfold sequentially instead of instantaneously (imagine how confusing that would be), communicating that an event unfolds not sequentially but not instantaneously likely has to be done grammatically, rather than lexically. So there is probably not a common single word for this textual signal that won't sound weird. For this reason you probably have to hack it yourself with tense, prepositions, etc.

That aside, I feel like hypothetically, the answer would be the transitive form of 'time', for example:

"with computers, arithmetic times, even if it feel instantaneous. "

Not hypothetically, my answer is something like:

'take(s) time (to)'

'over time'

'in time'

'using time'

or something else that works best with the context.

Some example sentences:

Light travels instantaneously and I travel over time.
Light travels instantaneously and I travel with time.
I travel in time and light travels instantaneously.
I take time to travel and light travels instantaneously.
Traveling takes time but light travels instantaneously.

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