Monday, March 29, 2010


Do words sometimes jump out at you while you write? Today, while competing with several deadlines, I developed an intense curiosity about the word, "deadline".   From where did it orginate? What on earth does it mean?

Every humorous thought came to mind. Maybe it is because you feel like you're going to die before you meet your deadline OR maybe you write for such a long period of time that everything begins to look like  dead lines. Of course, these were not the correct explanations but it was fun imagining it. Eventually, though, my inquisitive side won out and I popped the question into the search engine.

Here is what I discovered:  According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary and commonly known legend, the word, "deadline", has it's roots in the American Civil War when there were no literal prisons in the field.  Captives were held at gunpoint and told to line up and stay behind two  temporary lines. If they crossed the first line, they were ordered back behind the line. If they ventured over the second line, they were SHOT. Yes, SHOT. Thank God we don't get shot by editors if we are tight on the deadline but it's really a good idea to get your writing done on time anyway or your chances of keeping a writing job are SHOT!

To quote Paul Harvey, "Now you know the rest of the story." 

With that in mind, let me get back to my deadlines. I'll be back soon with April's Cheerleader of the Month.

1 comment:

JoJo Tabares said...

I love finding the origins of phrases. Thanks!