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The Euphemism Review


This is a humorous article by contributor Louis Abel. The following content does not necessarily represent the viewpoints or opinions held by other authors on this website.

Welcome to the ported edition of the "The Euphemism Review" the journal for imprecise speech in the corporate environment.

Please don't say "timeframe"

The Eskimos have over a hundred words for what we simply call... "snow". The reason is that snow is important to them. It is vital to know if the snow is the kind that can be walked on without sinking, the kind that a sled runs on easily, the kind that igloos can be built from, and so on. If you ask a Eskimo for a bucket of "snow" they will have no idea what you are talking about and will, without a doubt, consider you to be an ignorant savage.

Here in modern western society we have many words that relate to time, this is because time is important to us. Whether that is a blessing or a curse is is debatable, but it's normally the latter. We need to know when things will happen and how long they will take. Some of these words are:

  • Schedule
  • Calendar
  • Frequency, or "how often"
  • Daily
  • Monthly
  • Yearly
  • Deadline
  • Time
  • Period
  • Periodically

Not only is "timeframe" not a word, you certainly can't use it in place of all of the above and expect to be understood even by a fluent speaker. And yes, we know that Microsoft Word seems to accept it as a word, but given their reputation... Don't be fooled.

Below, here's a handy dandy table you can use to practice.

Instead of... Use..
It has to be done in the June 1st timeframe. The deadline is June 1st
What timeframe do you need that by. When do you need it.
Let's figure the timeframes for that. Let's make a schedule.
What timeframe did that happen in? When did that happen?
Can we do that in the timeframe? Can we do that in time?
What's going on in your October timeframe? What's on your calendar in October?
Group them by timeframe. What?

Look how clear and understandable it is. It's also shorter. Who would've thought.