Imagine you have a timer that is set to a certain number of hours and minutes to elapse before going off. Now, if there's a button above the hour window and minute window and you click it, the value of the corresponding field will increment by one. If the minutes are set to 59, the display will turn to 0 and the hourly value will bump up one step.

The interesting thing occurs when we click the incrementor button for the hour and we reach the limit (let's say it's a 24 hours span). If we're at 23:37 and hit the hour button, I can imagine three different outcomes.

  1. the display loops/wraps to 00:37
  2. the display blocks/stays at 23:37
  3. the display becomes/rounds to 24:00

My question is what would be a intuitive, natural and distinctive discrimination between those three strategies if it'd be put in words? Extra nice if it's a brief and single-word term for all three cases.

My current suggestion (which very well might suck a bag of donkeys) is as follows. I'm not happy with it and I can't decide which terms, if any, come across as intuitively natural and distinctively discriminating.

  1. loop/wrap/continue
  2. limit/restrict/block
  3. round/push/spread


Based on the answers/comments this far, I see the following list emerge. Feel free to criticize it as well. I'm still quite undecided on the first, unhappy with the second but rather satisfied with the third.

  1. continue/flip
  2. restrict
  3. snap
  • What do you want to say about this, or how do you want to use it in a sentence? The wording might be different depending what you want to say. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 16:36
  • There will be no sentence, in this case. I'm looking for self-explanatory, intuitively graspable terms (as intuitive as possible, accepting that they might require a bit of explanation). They will be used as names for settings on how a timer can be configured. Does it help or does it make it more complicated? Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 19:22
  • That's excellent. Not sure if I can help but I'll think about it. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:38
  • I think you want instructions (just one word) to print beside each window so the user knows how to operate the button (incrementer) that changes the numbers. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:46

4 Answers 4


This is only my analysis

1) If numbers in your timer turn around when a minute or an hour elapses ,
the verb "to flip" would mean this

According to Cambridge Dictionary :

If something flips, it turns over quickly

based on this definition :

  • If it is 23:37 , and you hit the hour button , the display flips to 24:00 .

  • If it is 23:37 , and you hit the hour button , the hour display flips to 00 .

2) If numbers in your timer appear immediately without flipping ,
I would say that the verb "to snap into" describes this .

  • If it is 23:37 , and you hit the hour button , the display snaps into 24:00 .

  • If it is 23:37 , and you hit the hour button , the hour display snaps into 00 .

  • So, there are three possible outcomes of clicking hour up on 23:42. Your suggestion of snap is perfect for #3. Awesome! The #1 would possibly be flip, as the number 23 quickly turns into 00. What would be a good name for #2, i.e. when the click has no effect at 23 and stays unchanged? Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 17:21
  • 1
    I would say : it remains at 23
    – Mohammad
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 18:07
  • Let me constrain the options a bit. We're not looking for a sentence. We're looking for a term, a label, to describe the behavior. Imagine that the maximum hour isn't necessarily 24. It could be set up to span between 9 and 17. Then, getting at 16:32 and hitting the hour up button, will cause it to stay at the same hour. The flip behavior would cause it it get to 09:32, while the snap behavior would lead to 17:00. How would one label the behavior of not 14:32 becoming 15:32, then becoming 16:32 and then not changing, despite consecutive clicks on hour up? Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 19:01
  • Your question is interesting , what your looking for is a verb with multiple different meanings , I'm not sure if English has a word for that.....in case it didn't , why not try to make a new word ? It might one day be accepted and make it into dictionaries , who knows !
    – Mohammad
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 22:17

I would advise against using words like "loop" or "wrap" - it seems out of context with measurements of time. Time doesn't "loop" - it is continuous. Even when moving from the hour of midnight to one in the morning, this is a continuation of the measurement of time.

Similarly, don't use "increase" - because time doesn't "increase" unless you are speaking about a specific period of time with a marked beginning and end.

The most idiomatic phrase I can think of to describe a clock hand moving forward is "move on", for example:

If you press the button the hour moves on by 1.

If you want to be consistent throughout your three statements and use the same phrase, just say that the hour / minute "moves on" or "does not move one".

  • the display moves on to 00:37
  • the display does not move on
  • the display moves on to 24:00

For the second example, where the button has no effect - you could say that it "stays at x" but that could be misleading, as it sounds like the button will "freeze" the time, but I imagine that it will continue to move on by itself each minute. For that reason I prefer my suggestion which shows that the button has no effect.

  • I see how I fail to make it clear what I'm looking for. It's a component showing hours and minutes. Not necessarily a time counter. The control could be used for setting a time of an event, for instance. And it changes its dials only upon a human interaction, not by the time passing by. When the user clicks up, the hourly dial will increase by 1. That is, until the edge case occurs. And then, depending on the circumstances, three different behaviors may make sense (which is unknown until someone uses the control). I'd like a label for each of those behaviors. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 17:06
  • For the case where 23:55 bumps to 00:55, I like your suggestion of continuous. For the case where 23:55 is pushed to, and stays at 24:00, I don't know. In this case, 24:00 isn't the same as 00:00. The latter refers to the beginning of the current day, while the former implies the last seconds of the current day. As if there's no concept of tomorrow and we only consider the time of day. The case where 23:55 doesn't change, would correspond to same scenario with removed facility of pushing the minutes as far as possible upon hour button being clicked. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 17:12
  • I considered remain as the label but I'm not entirely happy with it. It only does remain when at the limit and would bump outside of the allowed interval. If it's somewhere in the middle of it, it doesn't remain unchanged but actually ticks on. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 19:04

I think perhaps I got an idea what it is you want to do, but not guaranteed.

For the three situations you describe, I make suggestions as follows.

  1. the display loops/wraps to 00:37/ The display will show 00:37/ shows 00:37.
  2. the display blocks/stays at 23:37/ The display remains at 23:37/ remains at 23:37.
  3. the display becomes/rounds to 24:00/ The display rounds to 24:00/ rounds to 24:00.

As you can see, I merely substitute your words in the sentences with my own. I thought you wanted one-word instructions for the user but I am not sure how to do that; you may have to print these brief sentences.

I have a feeling I'm not getting your vision. Sorry.

I'm reading your other comments, still trying to understand what you are creating, and what exactly you need. You say:

For the case where 23:55 is pushed to, and stays at 24:00, I don't know. In this case, 24:00 isn't the same as 00:00.

If at 24:00 the gadget needs to be reset to zero, you could say: reset, or reset to 0.

Another suggestion, more common with older keywound gadgets, is "rewind."

If the user understands the meaning, you could also use "repeat."

  • That is correct - I want single-word (or as few words as possible). The format of my suggestions is correct and I can't use a full sentence. However, the actual choice of word I'm not entirely satisfied with. I'd like to get better terms that more intuitively describe the corresponding behavior. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 6:28
  • I don't know who that +1 comes from, whether you or someone else; no need to know. What I need to know: Are you saying you want an improvement on this answer? I might be able to figure out something else eventually. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 14:40
  • Yes, I'm saying that I'd like an improvement on the answer. I would like the answer to be one-word terms (possibly few-words term), not an entire sentence. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 16:59
  • @KonradViltersten. Thanks. I edited my answer a bit but I see another person found a solution you like. I'm still not clear on what you're doing so I'll leave it at this. All the best on your project! Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 18:30

You seem to be describing a situation where the increment is always 15 minutes, and the normal behavior is to increment the countdown time by that amount.

If that is the case, then what you call case 3 is the same as any other case in the allowed range- the countdown time increments correctly to 24:00.

In case 1 you could say loop or wrap, or wrap around to or roll over to... and specify the number.

For case 2, "limit" seems fine. Or "On successive presses of the button, the countdown time will increment by 15 minutes until it reaches the maximum setting of 23:45."

  • Not sure where the 15-minutes came from. The minut dial tick in 1 minutes increments. The hour dial in 1 hour increment. Please elaborate so I can improve the formulation. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 10:10
  • It said that the minute dial can reach 59 and then tick to 0 but to be sure, I changed the 45 (even number of quarters, true that, although coincidence) to 37 (so it's really odd). Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 10:13
  • The 15 minutes came from your original post, which you have edited. Specifically, you said that an increment from 23:45 would go to 24:00 or to 00:15. At any rate, I don't have any more ideas about terminology. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 10:21
  • There's nothing about going up to 00:15 in the original post. I get worried that I'm missing something here. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 10:36
  • No, I missed or mis-remembered something. Sorry. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 10:45

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