I have a bunch of events that vary in duration and also vary in how recently they occurred. I want to graph these events so that they look like a typical bar graph, with all the bases resting on the X axis and the Y axis representing time. This way it will be easy to see which events lasted longer than other events (the taller the bar, the longer the duration of the event). But I also want to express how far in the past each event took place. More recent events would be closer to the origin than the ones further back in history.

I think "duration" is a good label for the Y axis, with "hours" being the unit of measure. As for the X axis, I'm having a harder time deciding on a way to describe the property that it will represent. The units of measure will be "days", but I want a word or short phrase to use on the X axis similar to the way "duration" characterizes the Y axis. The best I could come up with is "temporal proximity".

Does this work, or is it going to sound stilted, contrived, pedantic... etc.?

  • What numbers/labels are you putting on the x axis exactly?
    – Laurel
    Sep 25, 2020 at 20:13
  • @ Killing Time thanks for the help editing, I think it makes a definite improvement. I should have put more time and effort into writing my question. I guess I still need to do more work in developing mindfulness.
    – user19267
    Sep 25, 2020 at 20:23
  • I might use "Date of Event" on the X axis.
    – Greybeard
    Sep 25, 2020 at 20:28
  • @ Laurel The Y axis will use hours for the units, and the word "duration" as the label. The X axis will be measured in days (or perhaps weeks), but I'm not sure if "temporal proximity" is going to look goofy as a label. I'm open to any suggestions.
    – user19267
    Sep 25, 2020 at 20:30
  • @ Greybeard That might have a lower risk for embarrassment, but I'm thinking that it might be adding complexity. I think I would be figuring out the difference in days between any two given dates. Also I don't have really precise measurements or exact dates, as this is just an aid in getting an idea of what went into some projects/repairs I've had a hand in doing over the summer. It's somewhere between an analytic tool and a mild form of amusement and also a way to see if going too far with my word-a-day calendar! :)
    – user19267
    Sep 25, 2020 at 20:50

3 Answers 3


I don't have a problem with "temporal proximity", but recency would make sense to me. However, this dictionary definition only gives a qualitative rather than a quantitative definition. On the other hand, the Cambridge Dictionary gives

the fact of being recent, or the degree to which something is recent

(emphasis added). (If I were making this graph I might add "(days since event)" as a subtitle ...)

However, if we're being really picky and you're plotting the x-axis in terms of increasing "days since event", then you should consider temporal distance rather than proximity — and I can't think of a good substitute for "not-recency" ...


No, it is not an effective label. It does sound stilted and contrived, but worse than that it's unclear what it means. Ideally you want figures to be as self-contained and self-explanatory as possible. As a reader, "temporal proximity" would annoy me because I would have to look away from the figure and hunt in the caption or text to figure what it meant.

Personally, I would write something like "Days since event". This sounds more natural and is much easier to interpret than "temporal proximity."


Have you considered age or a variant like "age(days)" or "age in days"?


age noun
1 c: the length of an existence extending from the beginning to any given time

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.