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Meet a deadline

刊登日期: 2018.03.17
作者: Grace Tse  

Whether we are students or working adults, we all feel stressed when we hear a phrase like “meet a deadline”. Why do we worry about deadlines? A deadline is a time or date before which we must finish a particular task. Teachers might punish a student who does not hand in his or her homework on time, and managers might fire a worker who cannot complete his or her project before the due date

The earliest form of “deadline” c o n s i s t e d o f t w o w o r d s , “dead line”, referring to a fishing line which does not move. However, most scholars think that the current meaning of “deadline” comes from its usage in military prisons in the USA in 1864 during the American Civil War(美國內戰). The American Congressional Record (《美國國會議事錄》)explains: 

“The ‘dead line’, beyond which the prisoners are not allowed to pass.”

One of the most notorious prisons was called Andersonville Prison. It imprisoned many more defeated soldiers than it could accommodate. The conditions were so bad that many prisoners died of hunger, poor sanitation and diseases. The “dead line”(死線)was a low rail fence. If anyone climbed over this boundary, he would be shot down. 

Eventually in the early 20th century, the term “deadline” was used in the publishing industry as a guideline. Journalists were advised not to write beyond the “dead line” (印刷準線), otherwise parts of their writing would not be printed properly. 

Around that time, the meaning of “time limit” also started to gain popularity in newspapers. Nowadays, even young students understand the importance of “meeting a deadline”(遵守截止期限;在截止限期前完成)at school. 



Due date 


Military prisons 








Rail fence 




Publishing industry 




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