‘Dateline’ or ‘Deadline’: What is the Difference?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on September 2, 2022

'Dateline' and 'deadline' are similar words with different meanings. So how do you know which one to use - 'dateline' or 'deadline'?

This article will help you understand the distinction between the two so that you'll know in which context you can use both of these terms.

But on a fundamental level, the first thing for you to know is that 'dateline' refers to the location and place of publishing is printed. A 'deadline' is a time limit by which something must be ready.

What is a 'Dateline'?

First of all, you'll be wanting to know what a dateline is. We will explain exactly what this means, and where you might find one.

'Dateline' - what does it mean?

The word 'dateline' is a noun but can also function as a verb. The first known use of dateline was around 1888. In fact, its use isn't very widespread these days, at least not in casual conversations. You'll hear it mainly said within professional discussions where it's relevant, for instance, in newsrooms or printing houses.

A dateline is a line at the top of a written document that states the date and place of publication.

Datelines are usually written in italics and can be found in newspapers, magazine articles, and more, both online and in print.

The most common place you'll find the dateline is below the author's name, underneath the article title. Go ahead and search for an online newspaper article now, and look for the dateline.

The dateline usually states the time and date of upload. See the example below.

'dateline' or 'deadline'

Here is an example of the word used as a noun:

Don't forget to add the dateline information to that article.

Here is an example of the word used as a verb:

Don't forget to dateline that article.

International Date Line

The word 'dateline' is not to be confused with the term 'date line,' which is made up of two separate words and refers to an imaginary line along the 180th meridian.

Also known as the International Date Line, its purpose is to divide the world into time zones.

What is the difference between a dateline and a datemark?

Another word that is very similar to 'dateline' is the word 'datemark.' This term refers to the act of marking something with a date and place.

In that sense, then, a dateline is a form of date marking.

What Is a 'Deadline'?

'Deadline' - What Does it Mean?

To set a deadline is to set a time limit within which a task must be completed. Most commonly, the term will be used in work or education contexts. For example:

Don't forget: the deadline for turning in your dissertations is on June 26th.

Here are some synonyms for the noun 'deadline':

  • Due date
  • Cutoff date
  • Turnaround

Common Expressions Around Deadlines

There are some common phrases you might hear people say when they're discussing the topic of deadlines. Here are some of the most common ones.

Hit a deadline

To 'hit a deadline' means to complete your work in time, before the due date expires. For example:

If I work diligently, I'll be able to hit the deadline without any problems.

Meet a deadline

Meeting a deadline has the same meaning as hitting a deadline, but it is more formal.

The whole team is working hard to meet the deadline.

A tight deadline

When something has a tight deadline, it means that the turnaround window is pretty small. In other words, you won't have much time to complete it.

I'm working towards a really tight deadline at the moment.

Miss a deadline

Missing a deadline means that the piece isn't ready on time.

If I miss the deadline, I won't get my funding.

Alternative Meanings for 'Deadline'

The word 'deadline' dates back to the 1860s when it carried a completely different meaning.

Indeed, it used to refer to a line drawn on the floor around a prison. Prisoners were not allowed to cross this line, at the risk of being shot. According to Merriam-Webster,

Some of the earliest mentions of deadline come up in 1863, preserved in diaries kept by captive soldiers during the Civil War.

'Deadline' can also be used as a verb and refers to the act of grounding an aircraft to make it unfit for flight. This word mainly applies to the military context and isn't used much anymore.

Not to Be Confused with Headline

A word that sounds similar to 'deadline' is 'headline'. These two words, however, carry completely different meanings.

A headline is like a title. It can be the title of a newspaper article or the title of a section of a report. The title above, Not to be Confused with Headline is a headline.

Yesterday's fire made the newspaper headlines today.

'Headline' can also be a verb and refers to an artist being the central performer at an event, festival, or concert.

Billie Eilish is headlining Coachella this year.

What is the Difference - Is It 'Dateline' or 'Deadline'?

To summarize, both words are entirely correct! However, they both carry completely different meanings.

A 'dateline' is the date that something is produced, and a 'deadline' is the date that something needs to be ready. So you might say the two terms are opposed in meaning.

Hopefully, this helps clarify which term you should use and in which context. But if ever you are unsure, you can always refer back to this article for clarity on the topic.

Thanks for reading; now time to go and hit that deadline!

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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