I'm working on a system that has the concept of events. Events can be in three states:

  • Active - e.g. a police chase has started, person entered store, car trip started
  • Resolved - e.g. a police chase has concluded, person left store, car trip ended
  • ??? - e.g. a red light was crossed, item was sold, harsh breaking detected

I'm struggling to come up with suitable terminology for the last type of event. The first two, active and resolved, imply an event that can be ongoing (e.g. has a start and end time), whereas the last type is basically something having to occur at an instant in time.

I've considered potentially using Interdeminate but I feel that won't be very clear for users. I was wondering if there was a more suitable term to use in this instance.

  • Happened or occurred? Jun 1, 2020 at 8:55
  • 1
    The second hardest thing in all of computer science: Naming things. :D It seems the first two are "states" proper, but the third one is an "event" (in state machine jargon) itself, rather than a state. Is it a singular breakpoint common to all instances?
    – edgerunner
    Jun 1, 2020 at 8:58
  • Perhaps instantaneous.
    – Xanne
    Jun 1, 2020 at 9:46
  • 2
    You need to define the third situation better. Currently, it seems like you have Unresolved (Active) and Resolved. That's a binary choice. But it's not clear what you mean by "a red light was crossed, item was sold, hard breaking detected." If, for instance, "an item was sold", doesn't that mean that the status is also Resolved? Isn't an item being sold a resolution? If not, how is it different? The problem might also have to do with the wording of the first two, which doesn't allow a third to easily fit into the binary choice it suggests. Jun 1, 2020 at 13:57
  • @Jason Bassford Yes; a classification error ('active', 'over', and a sub-event). Jun 1, 2020 at 15:52

4 Answers 4


You could try describing the state in time:

  • current [is happening]
  • ongoing [is happening]
  • new [just happened]

The action that needs to be taken in response:

  • noResponse [needs a response]
  • unassigned [needs an assignment]

Or the stage of processing it's at: - triaged [in the process of getting a response]


A good observation that the system exists in a binary state for a significant period of time and experiences a transitional state between the two binary states has been made in a comment above.

From the question it would seem, the time required to transition between the two states is very little, insignificant even, but still needs to be recognised and recorded by the system.

A number of words exist that may convey this meaning like temporary, transitory and instantaneous amongst others.

As your question is focused on nomenclature, maybe you could consider using:

Active, Pro tem, Resolved

Cambridge dictionary lists the meaning for pro tem as “now and for only a short period”


The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language classifies situations as states, activities, accomplishments and achievements (p118). The system is broken down thus:

States (static) vs Occurrances (dynamic)

Occurrances are split into processes (durative) vs achievements (punctual)

Processes are further split into activities (atelic) vs accomplishments (telic)

The examples given are:

i The flag is red. He likes her. They believed in God. [states]

ii He’s playing golf. He read to them. I had walked in the park. [activities]

iii He’s writing a note. He read the note. I had walked home, [accomplishments]

iv I declare the meeting closed. Ifound the key. He had died. [achievements]

Hope this helps.


You use "Interdeminate", I guess you mean indeterminate.

I have a feeling that you mean "started", "ongoing" and "terminated". The first and third are events, and terminated does not necessarily implied resolved. I've also used "waiting" and "pending" and "lapsed" in such software.

Such terms are consistently defined in good software project management models, like the German V-Model or the Swiss Hermes. I worked on the 4-language dictionary for Hermes (which later was updated from traditional "waterfall" methods to "agile" methods) https://www.hermes.admin.ch/en/project-management/understanding/overview-hermes/method-overview.html

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