Fellow Anglophones,

I'm developing a Timer App and I have a trouble thinking in what could be the appropriate noun for this time.


Right now, I'm using the expression Average Time. However, I don't think it's the proper one neither in English nor in my native tongue Spanish. Do you have any suggestion of a more professional word? Thanks in advanced for your worthy knowledge.

Additional information:

The behaviour is like a traffic light:

  • Green is the minimum, you can continue.
  • Yellow is a warning that you can continue, but your time is almost done.
  • Red is the limit and you must finish.

traffic light


  • 1 to 2 minutes.
    1. Green means 1:00 minute.
    2. Yellow means 1:30 minutes.
    3. Red means 2:00 minutes.
  • 5 to 7 minutes.
    1. Green means 5:00 minutes.
    2. Yellow means 6:00 minutes.
    3. Red means 7:00 minutes.
  • 10 to 15 minutes.
    1. Green means 10:00 minutes.
    2. Yellow means 13:00 minutes.
    3. Red means 15:00 minutes.
  • 20 to 30 minutes.
    1. Green means 20:00 minutes.
    2. Yellow means 27:00 minutes.
    3. Red means 30:00 minutes.

If there is any Toastmaster out here or any of you have ever visited our meetings, you could have an extra idea.

Sample text for the single-word request:

  • Set the minimum time to 20 minutes, maximum time to 30 minutes, and ____ time to 27 minutes. The warning will appear when the ____ time has elapsed.
  • How do you work out the figure in the yellow box? Do you just pick any time between min and max, or is it a specific time? E.g. min = 20 s, max = 40 s. Can I pick 'yellow time' = 20 s? What about 21 s? – Lawrence Apr 19 '18 at 7:49
  • Average, midpoint, and median all represent the result of specific mathematical operations upon a set of numbers. How do you arrive at the number in the yellow box? – KarlG Apr 19 '18 at 7:52
  • Hi @Lawrence, the time can be let's say between 10 and 20 minutes, but the average time can be in some cases 30s before the red color. For example: 1 to 2 minutes, the yellow is going to be in 30s, while in other cases can be between 15 and 20 and the yellow because of the rules can be at 16:30 because you can predefine it. – FANM Apr 19 '18 at 7:59
  • 1
    Perhaps you mean "current time"--the time it is right now. Or--elapsed time. You don't explain what the number in the yellow box is supposed to mean. – Xanne Apr 19 '18 at 8:00
  • What you call it depends on its purpose. What's the purpose of the yellow box's time? – Lawrence Apr 19 '18 at 8:01

It sounds to me that you want to set the minimum and maximum times for a speech, and then have the yellow light turn on at the midpoint between the minimum and the maximum.

In order to use your app effectively, the users need a term for this time (in order to refer to it in conversation with others), and a definition (to explain what it means). The term will be used frequently. The definition hopefully less so.

You don’t need to use a mathematical term. You could just as easily use a functional term, such as warning time, and then explain the calculation in your definition. This would allow you to have a default calculation, which could be correctly described as the average, the midpoint, the half-way point, or something similar. It would also allow the organizer (I forget the official Toastmasters term) to have longer or shorter “yellow times” to suit the group’s taste.

I can understand your reluctance to use average time, since the term average is usually applied to a set of measurements that have been completed, whereas your application (as I understand it here) is more about indicating the stage reached in a process that is still continuing. Average is technically correct in describing the calculation, but semantically wrong in relating the calculation to its real-world use.

My suggestion for the term is caution time, since the yellow light on a traffic signal is typically referred to as a caution.


Colloquially, and how signal colours are actually used, yellow (regardless of its calculation), is a warning signal—so the equivalent here would be warning time.

(At least in North America. If you are in Britain, then perhaps the other answer of caution time would be more appropriate. I'm not sure, as I've never heard that phrase myself. But I do know that in North America police officers hand out warnings, and in the UK they hand out cautions.)

  • In competitive games that use timers, the buzzer on the clock is the warning buzzer and the time interval between buzzer and allotted time elapse is the warning time. It rather seems like precisely the correct term, and is supported by existing usage. Of course, that won't help the right answer get selected now, but eh =) – Giu Piete Feb 26 at 18:17

I would suggest; time interval or interim.

  • What would be wrong with "time taken" or even just plain "time", please? – Robbie Goodwin Apr 19 '18 at 12:16
  • The question was updated after I posted my answer, original question was just asking for an alternative or better expression of average time, without the updates of different warning timings. I think the simplicity of your suggestions would also work well. – 5202456 Apr 20 '18 at 7:26
  • Sorry, 5202456 and if you believe that, please justify it… OQ was rather dlearly not asking for an alternative or better expression of average time, nor anyting like that. To the extent you think me mistaken, please explain how|? – Robbie Goodwin Apr 20 '18 at 22:30

"Mean Time" makes it sound more mathematical or statistics-related, but is no more professional than Average Time (to me, at least)

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