I have several time attributes, like "modification time", "access time", etc. And I want to compare these attributes for some objects:

How to find the object with the [word meaning "oldest"] modification time?


Take the first object that has [word meaning "newer"] access time than others.

What are the words that fill the blanks?

Update: To clarify the confusion about the way of comparison, I provide an example.

Let the first object have the modification time "7:00 1/2/2014", and the second "8:00 1/2/2014".

The first object was modified earlier — it has "older" modification time than the second one. The second object was modified later — it has "newer" modification time that the first one.

  • 2
    How about early, earlier, earliest? On the other end of the spectrum are recent, more recent, most recent? Feb 14, 2014 at 15:41
  • @Jim I like it. I also thought of recent, later, latest, though perhaps these distinctions become confusing.
    – crw
    Feb 14, 2014 at 16:00
  • As an, aside, you should, really watch, your commas. Most are not just, superfluous, but simp,ly wrong.
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 14, 2014 at 16:18
  • 1
    @Jim agree with earliest, but the other end could be latest.
    – bib
    Feb 14, 2014 at 17:48
  • Yes. I don't know why I didn't think of that. A perfect single-word answer. Feb 14, 2014 at 18:38

3 Answers 3


I would actually not describe times as being old or new, but rather the objects are old or new.

The object with the lowest creation time (lowest creation time stamp):

The oldest object.

How to find the first modified object?
Take the first object that was accessed after [some moment in time].

Leave it to whoever has to answer / implement this to make it technical. Just describe in everyday language what you mean: the newest object, the object that was last modified, or accessed, the objects that were created last week, etc.

In technical lingo, I would rather not use timebut time stamp, and I would certainly not use newer and older, but rather higherand lower to mean more, rep. less recent.


Because of what is presumably your very reason for asking, I'm not sure what you mean.

If you mean that the actual timestamp is more recent than another, then I would say "more recent"/"less recent" in a sentence where I thought it would be clear and "higher"/"lower" if I worried it might be ambiguous: "Higher" isn't a great way to talk about a time generally, but I'll put up with that lack of nicety in order to be clear.

If by "older" you mean a previous value that will be replaced with a "newer" value (and where the newer value may not necessarily be higher), then I would say "previous value" or "previous timestamp" for the older and "replacement value" or "replacement timestamp" for the newer.

That said, if timestamps were only ever going to be updated, and hence what was older in one sense was always older in the other sense, then I'd be able to stick with "less recent" and "more recent" without fear of ambiguity.

  • This. More recent and less recent. Most recent and least recent. Easy as pie.
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 14, 2014 at 16:16

There is another wrinkle when discussing computers and 'times'

Terms like 'Modification Time' are giving a point in time. Comparing them should use most recent / less recent.

In most contexts 'Access Time' is actually a time interval and should be compared using larger / smaller. Seek Times fit into this category.

If this is a file, and 'Access Time' is the time of the most recent access, then the first rule applies.

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