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Looking for any ideas as to a word or phrase that can be used for subject title.

Say we have a deadline at the end of the year with a target/objective that must be achieved at all costs.

Is there anything that really emphasises the fact that this target must be achieved?

  • In the United States, where deadline has become so commonplace that it expresses less urgency than it might have done some years ago, I have heard some people in business use the phrase "drop dead date"—which reanimates the old sense of the more familiar term to some extent. – Sven Yargs Sep 23 '17 at 3:53
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If it's merely a target (ODO definition 1.2) or objective (ODO noun definition 1), there's no 'emphasis' that the target must be achieved - it may simply be aspirational. If you want to emphasise that the target must be achieved, consider calling it an obligation.

obligation noun 1 An act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment. ‘We must do our utmost to honor the obligations contained in these commitments.’ - ODO

  • Also requirement or gating criteria. – Davo Sep 22 '17 at 12:06
  • @Davo those are good answers. I'd upvote requirement if you submit it as an answer. – Lawrence Sep 22 '17 at 13:51
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    @Davo I just saw your posted answer - upvoted. – Lawrence Sep 23 '17 at 0:40
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In addition to obligaion, offered in a previous answer, other suitable options include, from OLD:

requirement

1.1 A thing that is compulsory; a necessary condition.
‘applicants must satisfy the normal entry requirements’

And the term I've heard used quite a bit: gating criteria, which is used in project management to mean a condition required to pass on to the next phase. Google ngrams show this phrase to be a recent addition to the language.

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In my work we called this a drop-dead date, which I am surprised to see does actually feature in OED:

drop-dead adj.

  1. Chiefly Business. Designating the latest date or time by which a task must be completed or a result achieved.

1966 Missiles & Rockets 4 Apr. 16 February was the ‘drop-dead’ point for developing a '69 Mars probe and any late starting date would be inordinately costly.
1983 Daily Tel. 1 Nov. 1/8 The 300-day rule is known as the ‘drop-dead’ date in the shipyard contracts, being the moment an order can be abandoned without legal claim.
1998 N.Y. Times 3 Mar. a15/3 Republicans who support setting a drop-dead date for the current system believe that is the best way to force a decision on an issue that will put members of Congress in the line of fire from nearly every special interest group.

It's perhaps a little informal, but the question doesn't mention any particular requirement for the level of formality.

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"Requisite" pops to mind, but I don't feel that it conveys the sense of urgency that you want. "Vital", maybe?

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