Any suggestion for a single word that implies: "this process is not yet finished"? I will use this in the database; it has a corresponding boolean.


notYetFinished = true - This indicates that it is not yet finished.

notYetFinished = false - This means that it is already finished.

I'm looking for a single word to use instead of notYetFinished; I would much prefer a technical word describing a process that is not yet finished, or that is on standby.

  • 52
    When picking a word for boolean fields, prefer the "positive" format. In this case you can simply use "finished" with a value of true or false. Or "inProgress". Avoid negative terms since it becomes difficult to decipher at a glance.
    – Kim
    Jun 1, 2016 at 9:32
  • 11
    +1 on using positive terms. Not Finished (or Finished = False) causes less cognitive overhead than Not Finished = True. Jun 1, 2016 at 11:14
  • 1
    In a database, I'd prefer to see a test along the lines of "WHERE DateCompleted IS [NOT] NULL" to the use of a boolean but I very much agree with Kim and Laconic Drod on the importance of framing boolean names positively. Jun 1, 2016 at 14:47
  • 7
    While this doesn't help the request as stated, it might be better to call your variable finished and then your loop is while (!finished) which reads as, "while not finished" - which is exactly what you're going for and makes for much simpler/clearer logic.
    – fluffy
    Jun 1, 2016 at 18:57
  • 1
    What's wrong with "unfinished"??
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 2, 2016 at 0:50

18 Answers 18


Ongoing MW

adjective Being actually in process

  • 4
    Are you sure you didn't mean adjective rather than noun?
    – John Y
    Jun 1, 2016 at 15:00
  • That's the word we all came here looking for. "Ongoing"? Check.
    – DCShannon
    Jun 4, 2016 at 1:54

These seem very obvious:



  • 7
    Unfinished is the most obvious one. "Active" would be another choice. All these suggestions carry the implication that the task has already started but is not yet finished. If the task is waiting to start, then "pending" might be a good description.
    – Ian Shaw
    Jun 1, 2016 at 13:57
  • @IanShaw: Your comment really should be an answer, not a comment.
    – John Y
    Jun 1, 2016 at 15:03
  • 5
    An incomplete process isn't necessarily ongoing or in-progress imho, it can also be suspended, scheduled, blocked etc.
    – Alok
    Jun 1, 2016 at 16:08
  • @Alok, the same is true for "not yet finished." These suggestions are fine. Jun 2, 2016 at 15:31
  • @user1717828 I just realized, my comment is a bit unclear - I'm actually supporting this answer and upvoted it. I was actually pointing out that some other answers like in progress, underway etc. aren't as suitable as this one.
    – Alok
    Jun 10, 2016 at 1:29

How about pending?

Oxford dictionaries defines pending as:

Awaiting decision or settlement

  • 2
    pending completion?
    – hkBst
    Jun 1, 2016 at 14:27
  • 3
    I think pending is fine and often used in programming. The question is about a word that implies "this process is not yet finished". As a programmer in this case I would probably go for something like pendingProcess but even as a single word I think pending works just fine. Jun 2, 2016 at 12:51
  • To me, "Not Yet Finished" implies that it has started, but hasn't finished yet. "Pending" implies that it hasn't even started. Pending may be sufficient, or even correct, for their purposes, but the two don't have the same meaning. Jun 2, 2016 at 14:58
  • 8
    Pending could also mean "not yet started". I would avoid this vague term, especially in light of the other good suggestions here. Jun 2, 2016 at 16:28
  • Pending means waiting in a queue or waiting for something to happen before it starts.
    – EKons
    Jun 3, 2016 at 6:53

in progressM-W


happening or being done


Several projects are now in progress.

  • 1
    +1 for "In progress" because it is a database, and nothing gets more to the point than "In progress." If this were a literary work or some kind of manual I might've suggested something else, but since this goes in a database which may very well be inherited by another individual, you don't want them guessing what each state is.
    – jaichele
    Jun 1, 2016 at 13:14
  • inprogress would by the one word form of the term?
    – Stan
    Jun 1, 2016 at 17:25
  • @Stan It's not one word. You could camelCase it for a database, of course: inProgress.
    – DCShannon
    Jun 4, 2016 at 1:55

Easy solution:

Drop the "notyet" from the term you're using already, reverse the boolean operators, and you're finished.


finished = true (It's finished)

finished = false (It's not finished)

For a more technical term you could replace the easily understood with something else such as complete or done or even effectuated. : )

  • 4
    I agree whole heartedly. I've never understood the tendency to use double negatives like this, but I see it all of the time. "Yes, we have no bananas" anyone?
    – Michael J.
    Jun 2, 2016 at 19:02
  • The only problem with this is that finished doesn't give you any information about whether the operation has started
    – Ben
    Jun 5, 2016 at 9:51
  • @Ben Really? Isn't the enquiry about the status of an event imply that it exists—and if it exists, that it had been started in order to exist?
    – Stan
    Jun 5, 2016 at 14:44

How about "underway"?:

Having started and in progress; being done or carried out.



a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result


It's worth noting that answers for this question are a little tricky in that words that literally mean 'not yet complete' are not as satisfactory from a programming perspective as a word that doesn't exactly fit the definition but describes what is happening much better.

  • Agreed. It's not just about satisfying English. Coding has its own jargon, and for unfinished jobs are typically described as unprocessed (or pending), or processing, depending on status. Or you can go more specific if the job warrants it, e.g. "rendering."
    – johncip
    Jun 1, 2016 at 18:56
  • Double agreed -- in a software engineering context, those words (or "busy" / "working" / "running" ) might make more sense as an answer to the question as written than they would in other contexts. Also avoiding the double-negative definitely improves readability/maintainability, as others have mentioned.
    – A C
    Jun 3, 2016 at 18:21

I would much prefer a technical word describing a process that is not yet finished, or that is on standby.

If you are going to use it for coding purpose:

while(running) {
 // do something

word you are looking for is 'running'.



Continuing to exist, unresolved

Definition 2 at MW



Abbreviation of the phrase: work in progress

If you need a short word to use for your situation, you could use an abbreviation like wip, witch stands for 'work in progress'.

  • 1
    I don't think abbreviations are good in code (or databases), with the odd exception, of-course (id, ok, etc). I once worked on a database with column names such as QQSID, QQSQSID, QQSSQID, QQSISID. Makes things very hard to read, annoying, and even with easier to read ones if you don't know it, you have to look it up.
    – PeteGO
    Jun 1, 2016 at 21:59
  • WIP is a well known business acronym for project planning and also in accounting (see investopedia.com/terms/w/workinprogress.asp). Also see Wikipedia "Work in progress or work in process is the general description of a partially finished project."
    – O.M.Y.
    Jun 2, 2016 at 1:19
  • Working on a project with ambiguous acronyms sounds like a huge pain. That being said, those are the trade offs a project team should be aware they are making. I've seen really expressive codes that are practically unintelligible: P = I*V, or Power = Current * Voltage, or PowerOurputIdealFuelCell = CurrentOutputIdealFuelCell * VoltageOutputIdealUsingThompsonModel. Even though the last is the most descriptive, I would argue to use the first or second
    – cbcoutinho
    Jun 2, 2016 at 9:10

Boolean variables are more readable when they start with "is."

For your case, I'd recommend "isInProgress" or "isOngoing."

  • IsComplete would be my choice -- although more likely I would do this with a lookup status table and a tinyint to identify all the different stages of doneness Jun 3, 2016 at 13:22
  • This is English Language not Programming. IsInProgress is not a word, it's a camel-case identifier. Jun 4, 2016 at 13:46
  • @GreenAsJade: True, but op's question was in a programming context. He was actually looking for an identifier, not an English word.
    – wcr4
    Jun 6, 2016 at 14:28
  • @USER_8675309: You're right, IsComplete would be more understandable, but op asked for its negation.
    – wcr4
    Jun 6, 2016 at 14:29
  • @wcr4 A kinder interpretation of the OP's question is that they are looking for a single word to replace a camel case identifier. If that is correct, then the question is in the right place. If they are looking for an identifier that is not an English word, then this is not the place for that question, or your answer. Jun 7, 2016 at 5:34

I'd probably go with busy. If something hasn't finished what it's doing yet, then I think it's accurately described as being busy.

Note though that I'm not a native speaker.



To put in final or finished form.


As an aside: booleans need not be stated in the positive (for example, consider a database column named INACTIVE) However, as others have mentioned, in this case, stating your booleans in the positive is perhaps clearer.

Following your original logic, you could use incomplete just as well as notYetFinished.


As Kim pointed out, double-negatives can be confusing.

notYetFinished = false

Wait what?

So like Kim, I would propose a positive word: done

done = false

// ...

done = true

To use a noun rarely used in this sense you can try arrear(usually used in plural).

An unfinished duty. (Check definition at Merriam Webster)

  • 1
    It's an obscure enough word that I think this term would decrease legibility and comprehension. I would not be happy to see it as a db column.
    – Kelseydh
    Jun 2, 2016 at 9:31
  • 1
    Arrears sounds to me like things unfinished and left behind, something that should have been done but is still not - Indeed it is used for overdue amounts and it has the same root as the Italian "arretrati" (backlog). Not what the querent was looking for, which is "this process is still running, it is not finished yet", IMHO.
    – Zachiel
    Jun 4, 2016 at 13:39

For a computer process, it is common to use


carry out an instruction or program.

a process that is not finished, but is on 'standby' as you mentioned is


in a suitable state for an activity, action, or situation; fully prepared.

could also apply


functioning or able to function.

General Process State Diagram:

enter image description here

  • The diagram suggests "running" instead of "executing".
    – ChrisW
    Jun 5, 2016 at 13:13


Though would suggest a field that means 'done' over a field that means 'not done,' given the acrobatics of logic required.

  • 6
    "undone" to me implies it used to be done, but came undone.
    – user428517
    Jun 1, 2016 at 20:33


engaging or ready to engage in physically energetic pursuits.

participating or engaged in a particular sphere or activity.


moving toward a goal or to a further or higher stage

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