For June 1, I’m on deadline for my and Brian McTague’s forthcoming book, Writing Centers at the Center of Change. I planned to take a weeklong break on this blog for Memorial Day, but I wanted to know more about the term “deadline.” In any case it serves me well, if a little early, for our June Metaphor. Where did this drop-dead-serious figure of speech first appear?
The OED Online, for once, provides no definitive etymology of the term! The most interesting candidate is a military one from the United States, with its earliest use given as 1864, during our Civil War. A “dead line” is “A line drawn around a military prison, beyond which a prisoner is liable to be shot down.”
The grim origin has been lost as we use “deadline” for everything now.
To my knowledge, rarely have editors shot authors or publishers shot editors. That’s my cue. Back to work.
Have a word or metaphor worth pondering? This blog will continue all summer. Please nominate a word or metaphor useful in academic writing by e-mailing me (jessid -at- richmond -dot- edu) or leaving a comment below.
Nick Youngson’s Creative Common Image courtesy of Picpedia.