Do Not Cross The DeadLine

Some time ago while I was reading The Pragmatic Programmer I found a reference to the original meaning of the word DeadLine.

A boundary line in a prison that prisoners can cross only at the risk of being shot.

Do Not Cross

According to Answers.com, this term was coined in 1864 during the Civil War:

It began as a real line, drawn in the dirt or marked by a fence or rail, restricting prisoners in Civil War camps. They were warned, “If you cross this line, you’re dead.” To make dead sure this important boundary was not overlooked, guards and prisoners soon were calling it by its own bluntly descriptive name, the dead line. An 1864 congressional report explains the usage in one camp: “A railing around the inside of the stockade, and about twenty feet from it, constitutes the ‘dead line,’ beyond which the prisoners are not allowed to pass.” […] But it was the newspaper business that made deadline more than just a historical curiosity. To have the latest news and still get a newspaper printed and distributed on time requires strict time limits for those who write it. Yet many are the excuses for writers to go beyond their allotted time: writers’ block, writers’ perfectionism, or just plain procrastination. […] Seeking the strongest possible language to counter these temptations, editors set deadlines, with the implication that “Your story is dead–You are dead–if you go beyond this time to finish it.

Fortunately, in the IT Industry, programmers who don’t meet a deadline are not shot … yet.

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