I’m currently writing a program that finds the “nearest sensible job”, in terms of time. The only problem is that that phrase could also mean that the program is finding the nearest geographical job.

Is there a concise way of referring to the nearest job in time? For example, I’m looking to replace the word nearest in a sentence like:

The nearest job to 12:45 was the run at 12:40. The next-nearest was the run at 12:55.

The nearest sensible job is five minutes away from the target time; the next nearest is ten minutes away in the other direction. Even there, it seems to be necessary to use spatial terms!

To clarify, I’m looking at both the past and the future, otherwise something like soonest would be perfect.

  • Soonest? ASAP?
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 17, 2015 at 11:34
  • Doesn't soonest mean in the future? I'll edit to clarify
    – Jacob
    Apr 17, 2015 at 11:35
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    You're looking for jobs in the past? Unlike spatial dimensions (geography), time is asymmetrical.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 17, 2015 at 11:35
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    @MarvMills If you're going to get into temporal, you might as well use 'roughly cotemporal'. Sounds kind of Science-Fictiony though. Apr 17, 2015 at 12:08
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    – Drew
    Apr 17, 2015 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


I'm uncertain if the proximity to the target is in the future or in the past. If it's in either direction, I would try closest instead of nearest.

Come to think of it, perhaps the proximity is related to duration, in which case I would still suggest closest.

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