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)

  • 3
    What's wrong with 'no overlap'?
    – Mitch
    Aug 20, 2015 at 12:26
  • 2
    Extra space on the sides can be called "padding" or "hedging".
    – GEdgar
    Aug 20, 2015 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, 2015 at 15:37
  • 4
    "any clients should stop communicating"? Surely "all clients". Aug 20, 2015 at 17:43

9 Answers 9


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)"

  • 2
    or 'provide a safety margin`
    – Keith
    Aug 21, 2015 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?

  • 1
    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, 2015 at 16:33

You're creating a metaphorical...

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

  • 6
    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") Aug 20, 2015 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.

  • 2
    elbow room is similar
    – Barmar
    Aug 24, 2015 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. Aug 7, 2019 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. Aug 7, 2019 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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