Origin of the word
There is evidence that schedule appeared in a number of different languages around the 14th century. In Late Latin, the word used was ‘schedula’ meaning ‘a strip of paper’. This suggests the idea of ‘a note’ or perhaps ‘a list’. The Latin ‘scheda’ or ‘scida’ was actually a strip of papyrus. Old French ‘cedule’ became Modern French ‘cédule’ and in English sedule or cedule was ‘a label, or slip of paper with writing on it’. The German ‘zettel’ and the Spanish ‘cédula’ are also derived from the Latin.
The modern spelling of schedule imitates the word from the 15th century although the pronunciation varies. In Britain ‘sed-yul’ persisted for centuries and modern pronunciation sounds like ‘shed-yul’, probably due to French influences. In the US, however, the sound is rendered as ‘sked-yul’, possibly based on the Greek word ‘skhida’, meaning ‘splinter’ rather than ‘strip’. It wasn’t until 1863 that schedule was associated with ‘a printed timetable’ and first recorded in use by the railways.
“Lucie Jones’s chances will be greatly boosted with a prime slot in the Song Contest schedule.” – Radio Times. 27th May 2017: United Kingdom grabs favourable slot in Eurovision 2017 running order. (1)
“Downton Abbey film ‘confirmed’ as the entire cast is asked to ‘clear schedule’” – Mirror. 5th January 2017: TV News (2).
If someone has a limited amount of time to do many things they are said to be on a tight schedule:
“The state opening of parliament will clash with the second day of Royal Ascot next week, leaving the Queen with a tight schedule if she is not to miss the meeting for the first time in 64 years.” – Racing Post. 15th June 2017: Opening of parliament on day two means tight schedule for Queen (1).
1. a plan of activities or events and when they will happen
2. clear your schedule: to cancel all the previously planned appointments in order to focus on something more important.
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.