Momentarily can have two meanings: (1) in a moment, or (2) for a moment.
- The food will be served momentarily.
- The meeting will adjourn momentarily.
Often the context will make it clear which meaning is intended (clearly food is not going to be served for just a moment), but sometimes the meaning can be ambiguous. In looking at the second example above, one might question whether the meeting will adjourn for a moment or in a moment. To avoid confusion, be sure that your intended meaning is clear from the context, or simply substitute momentarily with “in a moment” or “for a moment.”
Which meaning of momentarily do you use most often? Please share in the comments. (I always use momentarily when I mean “for a moment.”)
If you’re interested in the history of the usage of momentarily, see this post at Motivated Grammar: “In a Moment, for a Moment“.