Part of an advertisement for a fancy thermostat: “Instant readings are available within 10 seconds.”
My immediate reaction was how can it be both? It is either instant or it is within ten seconds.
Of course, there’s “instant” and then there’s “real quick.” When I was a kid, we used to play outside (those were different times) and, come suppertime or bedtime my mother would say, “Come inside this instant!” “We’re coming!” we’d reply…but we weren’t doing any such thing. We were still playing. We were going to squeeze every bit possible out of the interval between her expectation and our compliance. She wanted instant action; we wanted to delay her desire in favor of ours for as long as we could. It was a delicate balance between what she wanted and what we thought we could get away with.
When my wife (who, incidentally, is a gourmet cook whose culinary creations are not to be missed) tells me “Dinner is ready,” I know she means that I should stop studying, writing, carving or gardening, and wash my hands, a process taking up to five minutes or so. It really means, “Dinner will be ready about the time you have finished getting ready to come to the table.” We have that understanding developed in our nearly fifty years of marriage.
So, I’ll give you all of that but I still don’t understand how something can be “instant” with the possibility of a ten-second delay. Sorry, advertising agency, I can’t let you get away with such a contradictory claim. You might call it nitpicking. You can feel free to express that in the comment section and I will instantly give you my reply sometime.