Machine has a time counter which counts down, and when it reaches 0, something happens.

This counter can work in 2 modes; always, or only when machine is working. There is a setting which allows the mode selection.

How do I describe this setting? I have used Operation, but that could be confused with the event that happens once counter reaches zero. And it's quite generic anyway; if possible, I would like to something that clearly shows it's time related.

To clarify, there are 2 elements: setting label and setting value. Value text changes depending selection, but label is always the same. I want word for the label.

Operation:    Always
  ^              ^
  Label          Value
  • "operating" to indicate the fact that it works when the machine is operating, clearing the ambiguity with the Operation of the cound down. (but still quite generic and vague). If the count down is related to the machine works, "On-demand" could describe it? Or maybe simply "On", assuming there is an "Off" position at all?
    – njzk2
    Nov 28, 2014 at 14:46
  • Countdown or Time or Counter. It is the value that tells you whether it is on or off (or automatic or not; or the mode is on or off; or whatever).
    – Drew
    Nov 28, 2014 at 17:40
  • (Timing) Mode: Run time (Timing) Mode: (Remaining) Time I tend to dislike the word "countdown" because it's not clearly associated with time (rocket launches notwithstanding), but in conjunction with Timing Mode, it's okay. Nov 28, 2014 at 17:47
  • Could you be more specific about what this machine does, and when one would want to start the timer? Nov 28, 2014 at 18:59
  • This being a specific feature of a specific tool, there can be no universally-accepted term — but you just used certain words to describe it to us, so go ahead and use these exact words to describe it to everyone else. Meaning to say, you just used the word "mode", and so a mode it is, answering your own question right there. To clearly show that the mode is time-related, you can just say "time mode", but that step is optional as the values speak for themselves. Whatever word you use, the users will click on the dropdown anyway, to make sure they understood you correctly.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 28, 2014 at 21:31

3 Answers 3


Consider Time mode or Timing mode in place of the Operation label, with real-time or active or work time as possible values, with or without various hyphens or spaces. Thus, the always-timing and when-working cases could be denoted via some of the options shown below. Note, some other terms (elapsed, wall, etc.) have been used historically and may be relevant too.

Time mode: Realtime
Time mode: Worktime
Timing: Realtime
Timing: Worktime
Timing: Real-time
Timing: Work-time
Timing: Wall-time
Timing: When busy
Timing: Elapsed
Timing: Real
Timing: Running

  • In the computing and control fields, "realtime" has a specific meaning, which has to do with immediacy guarantees. Nov 28, 2014 at 18:52
  • @200_success, yes, and that specific meaning is based on reference to real time. Nov 28, 2014 at 20:12

Mode "always" might be called "real time mode". Mode "machine is working" might be called "discontinuous mode".

The label could be "Clock Mode" or "Countdown Mode".

  • @user694733: thanks for the clarification. I've modified my answer.
    – dnagirl
    Nov 28, 2014 at 14:29

For the label, I think Timing mode would work.

For one setting, I suggest elapsed time. In computing, the term is wall-clock time.

For the other setting, I suggest operation time. (In aviation, the term for the time that the engine is running is called Hobbs time. I doubt that your users would be familiar with that reference, though.)

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