Is there any difference? Which would be better to describe a requirement for 1 or 2 days. Suppose I need to inform my Operations team, that I need a particular requirement to be implemented but I want it only for a day or two?

From ODO I get:

Temporary: Lasting for only a limited period of time; not permanent.


Momentary: Lasting for a very short time; brief.

So both seem to have the same meaning. Which one would be appropriate here.

Statement 1: My team's requirement for implementing ABC system is temporary.

Statement 2: My team's requirement for implementing ABC system is momentary.

  • 1
    Beginer, please note that using either of those phrases will characterize the lifespan of the requirement itself as brief. That is, the requirement --the very fact that your team needs or requires something -- is going to go away (in one or two days). This is not the way to express that the requirement must be fulfilled in one to two days or any short period if time. These sentences are literally saying "Soon, my team won't have that requirement any more." (presumably because circumstances have changed and the situation driving the requirement has itself evaporated).
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 27, 2014 at 9:17
  • 2
    You may find English Language Learners useful. Aug 27, 2014 at 14:51
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    Beginer, your defintions are completely wrong, you omitted the half of the sentence "not permanent" which completely changes the meaning of "temporary". "Temporary" has no connection, in any way, at all, to "length of time." It just means "not permanent", "not full-time" - as with, for example, a temporary teacher
    – Fattie
    Aug 27, 2014 at 16:08

4 Answers 4


Limited is very different to short.

Momentary: Lasting for a very short time; brief. 1
Brief == not lasting for long.

Temporary: Lasting for only a limited period of time; not permanent. 1
Limited == restricted in... amount (But has no defined amount of time it is limited for).

Momentary is a very short period of time. Temporary means it can be there indefinitely - not necessarily planned, but it will stop existing at some point.

The second hand was momentarily pointing to 12 2


The scaffolding is on the house temporarily, while they have their roof redone. 2

1: Google Dictionary, momentary and temporary. Brief and Limited.
2: My Quotes

  • Hey thanks, so which statements in my question is correct, if my requirement is obvious to be less than 2 days.
    – beginer
    Aug 27, 2014 at 8:44
  • Still temporary - Generally, a moment is defined as a point in time lasting from 1-3 seconds, but is used anywhere up to 5 minutes really.
    – Tim
    Aug 27, 2014 at 8:47
  • Source of quotes? Aug 27, 2014 at 14:53
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    Sorry, added in :) Google Dictionary and myself.
    – Tim
    Aug 27, 2014 at 15:02

Momentary means "just" touching -- as when a billiard ball bounces off another.

{So, depending on the physics of the situation involved, it's "just" touching. So, two billiard balls "momentarily" touching is 0.1 seconds (or whatever that is - ask an engineer). Whereas - for example - imagine describing a naval collision during a battle: the two ships "momentarily" touching (imagine all the grinding of metal, etc) would likely physically occur over - let's say - some 10 seconds. For people who work with continental plate tectonics, a "momentary" touch might be 100,000 years.}

Temporary simply means "not permanent."

Temporary has utterly no connection to whether short or long.

You know, like a "temporary teacher" or "the temporary offices" or "a temporary 87 million year break in the galactic cycle" or whatever.

BTW the answer to your question at the end, is of course sentence (1)

My team's requirement for implementing ABC system is temporary.

(FTR that sentence is generally completely meaningless if you use the word momentary - unless, bizarrely, you were talking about database transactions or something obscure.)


A momentary action takes less time than a coffee break. In the work place, any momentary thing should be something that would go unnoticed by anyone currently taking a coffee break.

Temporary is an arbitrary amount of time, and could even be used to replace momentary in many cases, but it does not give the implied connotation of quickness like momentary does.


TEMPORARY! Moments, IMHO, last mere seconds, whereas 'temporary' can be any length of time provided it has a beginning (middle) and, more importantly, a SCHEDULED or FORESEEN end.

  • 3
    How does this differ from what has already been posted on this page?
    – jsw29
    Oct 4, 2020 at 15:22

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