I'm looking for a word which means "leaving space around", as an antonym of overlap.

Specific example case:

The server's service stops between 23:00 and 00:00 UTC, therefore to avoid generating exceptions during predicted maintenance windows, any clients should stop communicating with the service between 22:45 and 00:15 UTC (i.e. additional 15 minutes either side of the window to ensure no overlap)

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    What's wrong with 'no overlap'? – Mitch Aug 20 '15 at 12:26
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    Extra space on the sides can be called "padding" or "hedging". – GEdgar Aug 20 '15 at 12:45
  • @Mitch I wanted a word which implied more than no-overlap; i.e. that there would be a margin for error included. That said, this is more satisfying my curiosity than resolving a real issue... – JohnLBevan Aug 20 '15 at 15:37
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    "any clients should stop communicating"? Surely "all clients". – Nigel Touch Aug 20 '15 at 17:43

The word 'margin' has this exact meaning.

Margin - noun

  1. an amount allowed or available beyond what is actually necessary: to allow a margin for error.


e.g. "...between 22:45 and 00:15 UTC (i.e. 15 minutes margin either side of the window)"

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    or 'provide a safety margin` – Keith Aug 21 '15 at 0:45


(i.e. additional 15 minutes on either side of the window to ensure the gap)"

or in this case, would margin of safety work for you?

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    Coming from the tech industry I can say that "gap" is most appropriate for the example given in the question, though "margin" is a close second. – thanby Aug 20 '15 at 16:33

You're creating a metaphorical...

buffer zone - any area serving to mitigate or neutralize potential conflict. (thefreedictionary)

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    Or, simply, a buffer - a person or thing that prevents incompatible or antagonistic people or things from coming into contact with or harming each other (from google: "buffer definition") – Harrison Paine Aug 20 '15 at 17:15

It's not exactly an antonym but what you want is separation to avoid interference.

2 The division of something into constituent or distinct elements:
'prose structured into short sentences with meaningful separation into paragraphs'



In a mechanical sense "clearance" or simply "gap" would be used. In this case I would be tempted to expand a little and go with something like "to ensure no requests are received in the downtime even if clocks disagree". (I tend to think that if you're telling users not to do something you have more hope of getting what you want and not annoying them by saying why). Alternatively you could simply use "time" as in "time to allow all queries to complete"


"Wiggle room." If it doesn't seem too colloquial for the overall context, its inherent informality might strike a nice note.

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    elbow room is similar – Barmar Aug 24 '15 at 18:58
  • A belated thankyou; 'wiggle room' strikes a lovely note. It brings to mind our young grandson's bedroom (he's going to start crawling any day now). I'll suggest to our daughter that she should get a 'Wiggle Room' sign to put on his bedroom door. / Hope you're well; perhaps you've found more apposite pursuits. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 7 '19 at 12:31

How about one of these?

  • separation
  • ample time clearance
  • non-interference
  • to avoid overlap
  • to avoid possible conflict

(just suggestions... you'll want the term(s) to be familiar and meaningful to IT culture specifically)

  • @JohnLBevan your edit improved the post, so I have approved it. However, there are no definitions to back it up, and some are duplicates. – marcellothearcane Aug 7 '19 at 11:36

The words that I have used to describe separate, non-overlapping items would be:

  • silo, as in "..to ensure the systems are safe in silo..."

  • sequester, as in "either side of the window to sequester systems..."

If I had the reputation, I would upvote hedge and margin.


In business communication, I would suggest 'blackout period' or 'safety margin'. If you feel whimsical, 'no fly zone' is apt as well, but less clear.

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