I need to use two words to distinguish between two types of events (or timeblocks in a timeline).

  • Some of them have a duration: e.g.: From 20:00 to 21:00 is a {word1}
  • Some of them have no duration: e.g.: The 3rd of March is a {word2}

Are there some English words that would express this difference?

I thought to use discrete event for word2, but it seems a bit clumsy. And what about word1 in that case?


2 Answers 2


The 3rd of March is an event with a duration, of 24 hours to be precise. Noon would be an event which has no duration, and can be said to be an instant:

an infinitesimal space of time

(source: Merriam-Webster)

For the other kind of event, time span or period might work, but I'm sure there are better alternatives.

If you need adjectives to distinguish between the two types of events, instantaneous and non-instantaneous would work.

  • a span of time or space; a point in time or space
    – Xanne
    Mar 16, 2017 at 23:43

I agree with @Glorfindel's clarification, your second example does have a duration. I will also provide an answer to the question in the title: a word for an event with no duration.

An event with no (or sufficiently small) duration is sometimes referred to as a split second. According to Cambridge Dictionary:

a very short moment of time

Their example sentences:

They brought out guns and for a split second nobody moved.

We had to make a split-second (= very quick) decision.

Attribution: (Definition of “split second” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

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