There have been numerous times when I've read the phrase "Live in the moment" but today I got a question in a quiz wrong according to which "Live for the moment" is the correct usage.

Then I checked online and found Live for the moment is a phrase while I can't find live in the moment defined anywhere (in known and reliable dictionaries).

My question is, have people been using the phrase "live in the moment" incorrectly from a long time?

EDIT: Yes, I know use of "live in the moment" is not uncommon. But why is it I cannot find it in any known and reliable dictionaries? I even got a question wrong in quiz...


I don't know where you found information on "live in the moment" being incorrect. It's quite common in Australian English.

In fact, here's a Google search result for wikiHow:

wikiHow Search Result

  • Yes, I know use of "live in the moment" is not uncommon. But why is it I cannot find it in any known and reliable dictionaries? – Rohit Jun 12 '15 at 5:39

There is a difference in connotation.

  • Live for the moment

You might say this of someone who does risky thing just for the thrill of it. They might plan these exciting "moments" ahead of time, and anticipate them. So even before that moment, they are living "for" that moment. Similarly, even non-thrill-seekers may say they "live for the weekend", meaning they think all week about the activities or relaxation they will enjoy during the weekend.

  • live in the moment

These people might not plan any particular "moments" to enjoy, they just seem to have the knack of enjoying (or at least accepting) whatever comes their way. Actually, this attitude/habit can be learned through meditation, particularly the kind that is now called mindfulness. It is exemplified by the motto "Be Here Now". These people do not seek "moments"; they seek for the serenity to accept calmly every moment, good or bad, without being distracted by thoughts of the past or the future.

As for this not being in your "reliable" dictionaries—well, you'll just have to take it up with the editors of that dictionary.

  • I disagree about your definition of the second one. It really has nothing to do with planning. It has to do with where your attention is while doing things. If you are at the park with your kids and playing with them, pushing them on the swing, tossing a ball with them, you are living in the moment, regardless of whether or not you planned the trip to the park. If you are constantly getting distracted by work emails, trying to figure out what to cook for dinner tonight, and trying to settle a fight between your father and your sister, you are NOT living in the moment – Kevin Jun 10 '20 at 13:59

I agree with Brian Hitchock completely. I just sent a card to a college graduate with Brian's exact sentiment. Live "in" is being aware that one is aware at all times, while "for", to me, means that one is going to create something that might not have otherwise just happened and, once it's over, I'll move on. I much prefer "in" to "for".

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