In the context of describing how data is collected for research, I am looking for words that distinguish data that represent events that occur all at one single point in time versus events that occur at two or more points in time.

The closest idea I have come up with is "cross-sectional data" versus "panel or longitudinal data". However, there is a subtle difference that is important to me. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data refer to when the data is collected, not to what the underlying events represent. Let me use an example of surveying people about their impressions of a product that they are considering buying. Suppose they are surveyed in month 1 about their impressions of the product before they buy it and then they are surveyed again in month 2 to know whether they bought the product or not; that is considered longitudinal data because they are surveyed at two distinct points in time. But if in another study people are surveyed only once in month 1 to know their impressions about the product and their intention to buy it, that is considered cross-sectional data because they are surveyed only at one point in time.

However, I am interested in the second scenario because even though there is only one data collection, the questions asked represent two distinct events that span different points in time: 1) their present impressions of the product and 2) their future intention to purchase the product. I am specifically interested in a word that, regardless of if the data collection is cross-sectional or longitudinal, captures this idea of two or more events at distinct points in time implied in the survey questions.

The best I can think of is "instantaneous" to represent a single event and "multitaneous" to represent two or more distinct events. The problem, though, is that "multitaneous" is not an English word. I would appreciate any suggestions.

  • 1
    It’s a survey with two questions. Most surveys have several questions.
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 23:44
  • Wrong metaphor. You're right about individual points in time, but they don't contrast with multiple-points, but with continuous stretches of time, like distances. You're moving from zero dimensions to one. English has words like since that refer to lengths of time defined by starting points, and ago that refer to points in time defined by lengths. They can even be used together, like functions: He's lived here [since [16 years ago]]. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 0:12

1 Answer 1


Points that occur at the same time are called "contemporaneous" or "simultaneous". You might also use the words "contemporary" or "coincident", but those words also have other meanings and might be confusing.

The easiest way to refer to other data types is to put the prefix "non-" in front of whichever word you choose to get its antonym.

Note that these refer to the same actual time, not several things that happen one month after several other events.

  • 1
    An example of the difference between contemporaneous and coincident: I used to work with biological records. A record usually has several data points including when (date/time) and where (spatial reference). We would class records that share the same date/time as contemporaneous and records that share the same spatial reference as coincident. Within the standard recording database we used (Recorder 6), the data occurring at a particular time and place was called a survey event, which could include many samples and other data. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 12:28
  • In other words, a survey event is data that are both coincident and contemporaneous. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 12:33
  • Thanks, but neither contemporaneous nor simultaneous capture the nuance I am looking for. These words indicate that two events occur at the same time. I am looking for a pair of words that indicate that [first word] an event is the only event with no other event occurring before, same time or later; and [second word] two or more events do NOT occur at the same time. I hope this is clearer now.
    – Tripartio
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 19:59
  • @Tripartio and "two non-cotemporaneous events" doesn't work for the second word?
    – Esther
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 20:11
  • 1
    @Tripartio I'm pretty sure your usage is specialized enough that there isn't going to be a single word to describe what you want. Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 20:13

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