Thanks for adding this word and its origin to our collection. I really like it. It’s a word so commonly used, yet I had never given a thought as to where it came from and nor had it ever been discussed in all the many years of Wordwizard’s existence.
I’ll give it my official treatment here for the record:
Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary
1) A line drawn within or around a prison that a prisoner passes only at the risk of being instantly shot.
2) A guide-line marked on the bed of a printing-press to indicate the limit to which the printing surface may extend.
3) A fixed time limit : a date or time before which something must be done and after which the opportunity passes or a penalty follows. <the deadline for filing income tax returns
: The time limit after which copy is not accepted for use in a particular issue of a publication. <3 a.m. was the deadline for the newspaper's morning edition.
4) A group of military vehicles put aside for repair or periodic maintenance.
: (dead + line) originally U.S.
, first known use 1864 (sense 1)
The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary
and other sources:
<1864 “The ‘dead line’, beyond which the prisoners are not allowed to pass.”—in Congressional Record, 12 January (1876), page 384/1>
<1868 “ Seventeen feet from the inner stockade was the ‘dead-line’, over which no man could pass and live.”—History Civil War U.S. III by B.J. Lossing, page 600>
<1888 “Should he some day escape alive across the dead-line of Winchesters, he will be hunted with bloodhounds.”—The Contemporary Review, March, page 449>
<1889 “The instant he sought to cross the social dead-line.”— The Plantation Negro as a Freeman. Observations on his character, condition and prospects in Virginia by P. A. Bruce, page 45>
<1920 “Corinne Griffith . . . is working on ‘Deadline at Eleven’, the newspaper play.”—Chicago Herald & Examiner, 2 January, page 10/4>
<1929 “Deadline for Poetry's $250 prize poem contest is September 1.”—Publisher’s Weekly, 27 July, page 349>
<1948 “The Security Council will not meet again until Wednesday, about 20 hours after the dead-line.—Daily Telegraph (London), 31 May, page 6/5>
<1982 “Applicants must have experience in office and business management, preferably in a school. Please send resumes to Box P243 Globe Office, Boston Globe, Boston, MA 02107. Deadline date Aug. 11.”—The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 1 August, page 166>
<2019 “The relationship is likely to become more significant as a deadline nears for India to comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran, one of India’s main oil providers.”—The Seattle Times (Seattle, Washington), 20 February>
Ken Greenwald – March 12, 2019