On Deadline

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Summary:

Here's a fascinating factoid: The word "deadline"—something every software professional knows only too well—didn't originally have anything to do with due dates. Apparently, the term arose during Civil War times. A deadline was an actual line, indicated by a fence or railing or by a line in the dirt, intended to restrict the movement of prisoners in Civil War stockades.

Here's a fascinating factoid: The word "deadline"—something every software professional knows only too well—didn't originally have anything to do with due dates. Apparently, the term arose during Civil War times. A deadline was an actual line, indicated by a fence or railing or by a line in the dirt, intended to restrict the movement of prisoners in Civil War stockades.

To make clear that these lines were serious, even if they weren't tall enough or sturdy enough to restrain anyone, prisoners were warned that if they crossed the line, they'd be killed. Thus, the dead line, as it came to be called. Not surprisingly, it wasn't long before a deadline came to be something used in the workaday world to signify when a certain task was to be completed or ... you're dead. Or more likely, in trouble.

If you ever thought your deadline was a plot to kill you, now you know.

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