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I'm looking for a simple word for a point in time for the name of a database column. The column is for "datetime" objects and it feels wrong to call the column "date", since that implies that the column only contains dates, and similarly it feels wrong to call the column "time". General programming principles dictate that it's also a bad idea to name a column simply by the value type it contains, so I don't want to name it "datetime".

Is there an English word for a "point in time", independent of whether we're talking about time of day, date of year or millennia? I want the word (X) to fit into the column name "creation_X". If you have another idea of a good naming choice I'd love to hear that too.

Edit: The table column in question should specify when the data was recorded. Think of it as a data point for Google Analytics. A row contains, for instance, site visits for 12:00 to 13:00 on 2013-01-01, so the field "time_span" is set to "hour", and the field for column X should be set to "2013-01-01 12:00:00". I can't figure out what to call the column though.

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If you are supposed to use a particular style of name (eg noun, noun phrase, verb, etc) or particular orthography, please edit question accordingly. Eg, indicate if a title like “When Created” is acceptable. –  jwpat7 Apr 23 '13 at 17:28
Moment theoretically has that meaning, but I'm not sure how well it would do in context. –  onomatomaniak Apr 23 '13 at 17:38
@jwpat7: Thanks for the feedback, I've updated the question. –  Hubro Apr 23 '13 at 17:44
Also see english.stackexchange.com/q/164227/8278 –  Pacerier May 24 '14 at 19:33
Something like "when_created" or "create_date" or "create_datetime" is often used, because it includes what happened at the time as well as just the fact that it's a time. E.g. if you're storing a createdate and a modified-date then you want to call them by meaningful names rather than 'moment1' and 'moment2'. For your example I'd use something like "when_recorded", "recorded_at" or "recorded_datetime". –  A E Oct 23 '14 at 19:57

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Timestamp is the word universally used for precisely that, especially in programming context.

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Won't it be confusing to name the column "timestamp" when the data type is "datetime" and a type called "timestamp" exists? Otherwise I agree with you though –  Hubro Apr 23 '13 at 17:46
@Codemonkey You could call it creation_timestamp if you are concerned. Reg is right, this is the most common term. –  Kit Z. Fox Apr 23 '13 at 18:17
@KitFox: OK, thanks for your help. –  Hubro Apr 23 '13 at 18:33
'Timestamp' is a keyword in SQL. Although your database might allow you to use it as a identifier, it's really not a great idea. E.g. see dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.5/en/reserved-words.html –  A E Oct 23 '14 at 19:54

"Moment" is a good word for a point in time. And it accepts adjectivals gracefully:

  • beginning moment
  • critical moment
  • Moment of creation
  • Moment of genesis
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I have a column called "Moment" which records the date/time. Isn't that odd-sounding? –  Pacerier May 24 '14 at 19:28
It's ambiguous with the physics/mechanics "moment" for the turning effect of a force applied to a rotational system at a distance from the axis of rotation. –  Core Xii Sep 24 '14 at 19:22

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