From 'Vocabulary' part of The ABC Of Plain Words by Sir E Gowers (1951)

The dictionary meaning of deadline is a "line drawn round a military prison beyond which a prisoner may be shot down". By a natural and useful extension it has taken on the meaning of any line beyond which it is not permitted or possible to go, and so, in general, a line of demarcation, especially between the safe and the unsafe. But, like all picturesque novelties of the vocabulary, it is showing a roving disposition that needs to be curbed. Of a threatened bus strike on a Saturday afternoon we were told:

Many shops sent their employees away at quarter-hour intervals during the morning, so that they could avoid the one o'clock deadline for the strike.

In telling news the simple way is generally the best way, and the simple thing that had to be said was that the employees were sent away early so that they could be home before the strike began, at one o'clock. We have no need of a new word for starting-time.

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