As the title says is "sunsetted" a valid word?

In my office, I heard one of the guy saying that this application is sunsetted. Is that valid?

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    possible duplicate of What does "sunset" mean in this text? – Hellion Oct 17 '14 at 15:49
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    It depends on what you think makes a usage of a word valid. – nohat Oct 17 '14 at 16:15
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    It is jargon in a particular field, usually referring to a planned phasing out or obsolescence of a product..the end of its "day" being almost over. So it is a valid word, but not necessarily a universally applicable usage. – Oldcat Oct 17 '14 at 17:57
  • It is also common for sunrise/sunset provisions in contractual agreements. Not surprising the "what does sunset" question is specifically referencing a piece of legislation. – Chris Marisic Oct 17 '14 at 18:17
  • Depends on what you mean by "valid". I definitely hear (ostensibly) literate people say ".. has been sunsetted" when speaking of a law or a version of some computer program or some such. – Hot Licks Oct 17 '14 at 18:39

Initially I though "no way!" but according to Wiktionary it is commonly used as a verb in business to refer to the retiring of a product (why one wouldn't say 'retiring' or 'phase out' is beyond me).

sunset (third-person singular simple present sunsets, present participle sunsetting, simple past and past participle sunsetted)

(business, politics, transitive) To phase out. We'll be sunsetting version 1.9 of the software shortly after releasing version 2.0 next quarter.


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    I can confirm that sunsetting is used in commercial software circles (for shame!). A sunset period is often one where limited (but often reluctant) support is given to software. You might call it software in its twilight years. For example: community.versionone.com/Developers/Developer-Library/… srthelpdesk.helpserve.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Article/View/… – Dan Sheppard Oct 17 '14 at 16:51
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    +1 for commentary! :-) I'm sure there is a reason somewhere but I thought the same thing - why a completely different word for something that is already described by "phased out" or "retired". I'm thinking it's industry jargon but I'd still love to know the backstory! – Kristina Lopez Oct 17 '14 at 16:51
  • obsolete and retired have a more pejorative implication than sunsetted does. – Oldcat Oct 17 '14 at 17:58
  • Also, sunsetted implies that the timeline of the project's demise has already been worked out; whereas "being retired" or "being phased out" implies there's no timeline. – Kyle Hale Oct 17 '14 at 18:52
  • Maybe it completes the idea of the "dawn of a new era". – HugMyster Sep 18 '15 at 10:55

This meaning of sunset is in the OED:

to subject to, or terminate by means of, sunset legislation,

meaning that a law which is "sunsetted" is only valid for a certain period of time unless it is explicitly renewed. If this is the definition that was meant, to say that an application "is sunsetted" means that it has an expiration date, after which it no longer works, or is not supported, or is not guaranteed to work.

I believe the past tense used for this meaning is generally "sunsetted" and not "sunset", but I wouldn't be surprised at either one.

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    hmmm. Seems to me that "subsetted" would describe a portion of something. – Kristina Lopez Oct 17 '14 at 16:52
  • @KristinaLopez That looks like just a typo to me. – Chris Sunami Oct 17 '14 at 17:25
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    @Chris: It was indeed a typo caused by my spelling incorrector. I've fixed it. – Peter Shor Oct 17 '14 at 17:27

The discussion on this is fascinating. Some bemoan "sunsetted" as jargon. I find it refreshing that legal types and computer programmers would use such a delightfully metaphorical term rather than something much duller, e.g. phased out or retired. I also agree with the argument above that "sunsetting" generally caries the meaning of the end being preplanned. Even from this practical vantage point, the allusion to the setting sun seems apropos to me.


I have no argument about the fact that the term exists. However, sunsetted is awful. In the past tense I would use sunset, as an irregular verb, as past participle. Better yet, is to you phase out, which can be conjugated nicely as phased out.

  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. A good answer will include citations reflecting the research involved in framing the answer. An answer may be quite correct, but requires validation to be accepted. It would be good for you to edit this answer by including citations. Thanks. – J. Taylor Oct 31 '17 at 16:30

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