Sunday, April 24, 2011


The flight attendant on the small jet announced, "For those of you who gate-checked your luggage, the luggage will be available momentarily as you exit the plane."

I thought: I guess we better dash to go grab our suitcase if it will only be available for an instant.

The American Heritage Dictionary iPhone app (which I strongly recommend; it has a very nice audio pronunciation guide built in) defines momentarily as "for a moment or instant" and has this usage note:

Momentarily is widely used in speech to mean "in a moment" as in "The manager is on another line, but she'll be with you momentarily."  This usage rarely leads to ambiguity since the intended sense can usually be determined on the basis of the tense of the verb and the context.  Nonetheless, many critics hold that the adverb should be reserved for the senses "for a moment" and the extended usage is unacceptable to 59 percent of the Usage Panel.
59 percent is a landslide, in a Presidential election at least, and I count myself in the majority.

You even see this incorrect usage in written form:

Your Password Has Been Sent

Your password has been mailed to the email address you specified. The email should arrive momentarily. When it does, please click the button below to return to the login screen.

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