When we have reached as far back into some history as we can theoretically go, like for instance in describing the precise theoretical moment when time began we have reached a singularity.

Is there a word to describe that state?

It seems like the obvious answer is 'singular'. To us it in a sentence I might say:

The moment when time began is the singular moment in history.

My question is two-fold:

  1. Would this be the correct use of the word singular?
  2. Is their another word I could use instead of singular?


Based on the comments below it would appear that the answer to my first question is no. I will amend my example sentence to be:

The moment time began is the ____ moment in history.

So my question is what is the best word to fill in the blank?

Another example that describes the concept that I am looking for would be a train moving from a complete stop. There is a precise moment when a train begins to move, though most often we describe that moment in terms of two distinct states when it was moving and when it was still. I am looking for the word to describe the moment when the movement began. I know that it is an infinitely dense moment and that is described by singularity. I am looking for the tense of that word, singularity, that completes the sentence.

  • singularity here is a highly context-specific usage (Astron. A region in space-time at which matter is infinitely dense) deriving from the also context-specific sense Math. A point at which a function takes an infinite value. You probably can't usefully force other forms such as singular to have any relevance to those meanings. For example, there could have been many singular moments in history, but there's really only been one *singularity so far. – FumbleFingers Jul 31 '14 at 17:25
  • @FumbleFingers According to my daughter who has a PhD in maths, there are many different infinities. If that be the case, reason suggests to me that there cannot be just one singularity. But what would I know? – WS2 Jul 31 '14 at 17:37
  • @WS2 I think what fumblefingers means is that there has been only one singularity as narrowly defined in my question, ie the very first moment, in time. Does your daughter have anything that could help answer my question? – Thomas Jul 31 '14 at 18:05
  • @Thomas Then that's not the singularity. That's a singularity. Are you asking how to refer to the origin of time, or how to refer to a singularity? – Kevin Workman Jul 31 '14 at 18:06
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    @WS2: Your daughter (and people like Peter Shor here, obviously) will know much more about such things than either of us. All I'm really saying is that at the level of English language we can't just say the singularity was a singular moment in history. Leaving aside the inappropriate use of "moment" and "history" in such a context, the normal meaning of singular is just too "commonplace" for the concept. OP needs to narrow down what aspect of the moment of the Big Bang he's interested in invoking, as distinct from its ineffable "singularityness". – FumbleFingers Jul 31 '14 at 19:46

Perhaps you might be looking for something a bit more


It works because of the root: origin, which has basic implication of source, and beginning. Because the question asks about as far back as we can theoretically go:

The moment when time began is the original moment in history.


The challenge is one of semantics as much as anything. Since "the moment when time began" is an artificial concept, it's difficult to be sure what it is you'd like to say about it!

If we are just to fill in the gaps, I could say

The moment time began is the first moment in history. :)

Joking aside, as another serious suggestion is seminal.

  • Seminal may be the best suggestion yet. I want to see if anyone comes up with something better, before I mark that as answered, because it is still not perfect. – Thomas Jul 31 '14 at 18:56
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    Please provide a bit more than just quoting a word: explain why that word works. Stack Exchange likes complete answers which don't require more research on the part of the reader. – Andrew Leach Aug 1 '14 at 6:33

Possibly you're looking for unique? A unique moment in history--there were no other moments in history like it.

  • See the edit. I don't think that unique fits. – Thomas Jul 31 '14 at 18:29
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    Every moment in history is in itself unique. – Oldcat Jul 31 '14 at 19:29

Quintessential should satisfy your need to describe that moment in history. In this case it would be used to convey that this event was the most major turning point to exist.

Speaker: "The moment when time began was the most quintessential time in history."


representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.

  • Quintessential sure sounds good, though I don't think that it is the correct word, quintessential implies a statement of quality or soundness. I am asking for a word to describe a state of being not a description of fitness for some purpose. – Thomas Jul 31 '14 at 18:35
  • @Thomas Oh, understood. You're not looking to describe the event itself in terms of history, but the essence of 'beginning' that it is. Thanks for the clarity =). – Xrylite Jul 31 '14 at 18:41

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