Mandatory or binding – which is the better word? Here is the context: I'm dealing with a contract that forces me to complete one task by a specific date. Is this a mandatory date, or a binding date? Which word is better?

Could you suggest an alternative word if one is more appropriate?


I think binding (which, according to NOAD, means impose a legal or contractual obligation on) is the more fitting word here. Mandatory simply means something is mandated (such as a mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists); binding implies that something (such as a date) has been agreed to by both parties.

As for alternative suggestions, you might consider contractual deadline, but I'm no expert in contract law. A lawyer could probably give you a better answer.

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  • THanks you, my domain is "contracts" so i will go for your advice. – user193655 Dec 4 '12 at 11:45

The date is mandatory;¹ the contract is binding.²

In law, to bind means to create a legal duty by your promise. When you make a contract, or swear an oath, you bind yourself. The Latin derived term obligation has the same meaning: ob- + ligare, “to bind (someone) to”.

Mandatory means “commanded” (and therefore something you have no choice about). In this case, the contract commands you to complete the task on time.

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It would be a mandated date when it is stipulated precisely and often strongly. A binding date is cause for non-payment or breaking of the contract (it should be spelled out) if you go over that date. You'd want the requirements (expectations) also fully detailed so there's no confusion if you're late with delivery when the requirements were not clear or kept changing. If it's only a date they want you to achieve something if at all possible, it would be a deadline.

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  • Deadline is also an option, but in my specific domain for various reasons the options I have are binding vs mandatory. – user193655 Dec 4 '12 at 15:26

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