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scheduled (adjective) :: included in or arranged / planned according to a schedule.

schedule ::
1. a plan of procedure, usually written, for a proposed objective, especially with reference to the sequence of and time allotted for each item or operation necessary to its completion: The schedule allows three weeks for this stage.
2. a series of things to be done or of events to occur at or during a particular time or period.
3. a timetable.
4. a written or printed statement of details

Given these definitions, is it really grammatically correct to schedule something to be done immediately / ASAP, and/or in the course of a impromptu spoken conversation?

Or refer to Job/Item X as a scheduled job/item, when it's really just Alice telling Bob 'Do X now'. Or at best 'Do X as soon as you're free' (with the understanding that Bob is going to / needs to be free in a few minutes, half an hour at best)

This is pretty common corporate use, in my experience, and now I'm wondering if this makes sense outside of corporate speak, or just an example of corporate euphemisms/doublespeak?

(Edited: because as Colin Fine pointed out, the usage is certainly grammatical; and grammar is not what really what I'm questioning)

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  • It may depend on the environment. Suppose all surgeries are scheduled in a clinic. If a new patient rolls in needing emergency surgery, I don't see any need to change the verb just because the surgery is to be done stat instead of next Tuesday.
    – J.R.
    Jun 20, 2014 at 11:01
  • @J.R. Really? I was of the impression that emergency operations are not scheduled operations. A quick google brings me to this page healthydebate.ca/2013/09/topic/wait-times-access-to-care/… where emergency surgeries also called unscheduled surgeries are clearly differentiated from scheduled surgical procedures.
    – Shisa
    Jun 20, 2014 at 11:31
  • It's semantics, I suppose. If we are talking about resource allocation, we might still use the word "scheduled". Can George prep the patient in Room 14? No, he's scheduled for surgery. Really, since when? Since one minute ago. We just wheeled someone in. If I'm in that conversation, I'm looking for someone else to prep the patient in Room 14, not arguing about whether or not George was truly "scheduled" to work in the ER. I found this definition: schedule to prioritise, arrange, or position with respect to a finite time period.
    – J.R.
    Jun 20, 2014 at 13:31
  • Where in any of the definitions you cited does it say that the time period must be in the future?
    – Barmar
    Jun 20, 2014 at 23:12

2 Answers 2

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A better definition of schedule specifically addresses it as a verb:

Arrange or plan (an event) to take place at a particular time;
Make arrangements for (someone or something) to do something

Consequently an activity can be scheduled to be done immediately (or in a short while). It simply means that it's going to be done, and you know when it's due to be done.

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It's certainly grammatical: you are just talking about the meaning.

If you don't like this usage, you are welcome to avoid it. But if it is indeed commonly used in this way then that is its meaning, and if the dictionaries don't say so, they have not caught up with this particular aspect of reality.

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  • In any other situation, I would certainly not hesitate to accept common usage has moved on! But because I've only seen this usage in corporate culture, I was curious about whether or not this is supposed to be doublespeak in the way of 'well, it's scheduled because I have asked it to be done and making immediate demands isn't so good, so this is actually scheduled'. Similar to using words like downsizing / rightsizing to mean layoffs and other such business euphemisms.
    – Shisa
    Jun 20, 2014 at 11:27
  • @Shisa - I agree that it seems to be a more specialized usage, which is another reason many dictionaries might not list a corresponding definition, but you seem to be imposing a negative spin on it. I don't think it falls under the category of "doublespeak."
    – J.R.
    Jun 20, 2014 at 17:03

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