Is there a Latin word for "deadline", a predefined point in time before which some assignment must be complete? I have heard the literal translation linea letalis, but there are also words like terminus and limes that might be appropriate. How would you express "deadline" in Latin and why so? I prefer to have (something that can be used as) a noun, not a verbal expression.

  • Would ultimatum do? Or a phrase with something like ne plus ultra ?
    – Tom Cotton
    Oct 12, 2017 at 10:39
  • @TomCotton I prefer to have a noun, so the phrase ne plus ultra does not qualify. It's a good phrase though, thanks for reminding me! I edited for clarity. Ultimatum might work, but I'm not familiar with that as a Latin word.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 12, 2017 at 11:05
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    There is a verb ultimare, 'to come to an end', from which [English] ultimatum is derived.
    – Tom Cotton
    Oct 12, 2017 at 11:21
  • How about terminus? If time is implied by the context, I think it would suffice
    – Rafael
    Oct 12, 2017 at 12:42
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    Hmm. As I look through the literature, I see that diēs indictus seems to occur not as a terminus but as a single appointed date, which would suggest its "proper" use would be not for a deadline by which something was due but for a date on which it was due, neither before nor after being suitable. (Then of course there's the fact that it always seems to be a date set for a meeting.) So perhaps not. Oct 17, 2017 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


Perhaps (praestituta) summa dies?

nisi mihi hodie attulerit miles quinque quas debet minas, sicut haec est praestituta summa ei argento dies ...

if the soldier doesn't bring me today the five minas he owes, since today was the predetermined last day for the money ...

Plautus, Pseudolus, act 1, scene 3

ADDIT: I just realised that since summa dies often means last day as in death (e.g. Lucan, Civil War, 8.29; Ovid, Amores, 9.27; Virgil, Aeneid, 2.324), this is perhaps a better fit for deadline than I first thought!

Alternatively, dies praestituta might be a useful term. Cicero seems to use it to mean an end date by which the delivery of corn must occur:

“Deportatum habeas ante Kalendas Sextiles.” Deportabo igitur ... Sic deportandi dies praestituta tollere cogebat ex area ...

“Deliver your corn before the first of August.” I will then ... Thus, the fixing of a date/setting a deadline for delivery compelled the removal of corn from the floor ...

Cicero, Against Verres 2, 3.14.37

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