Consider a task (a computer science term), which can have three states:

  • not yet started (queued)
  • started (running)
  • finished running

What word would be more correct for third state: "complete" or "completed"?

UPD: this word will be used as a table cell value in a column named "state".


7 Answers 7


Complete is kind of a tricky word to describe a task, because that word implies that a task can reach a pre-defined end state that meets certain conditions or criteria. But in programming, a task is usually much simpler than that. A task doesn't usually have any end state beyond that it ran OK or didn't run OK. And so I think completed -- just meaning "finished" or "done" -- is a better term to describe a task that is done running.



fully constituted of all of its parts or steps, fully carried out, or thorough.


to bring to an end or a perfected status.

Therefore, something is complete, or something has been or was completed.

However, in a lot of cases, you can use either.

In your case, I would use completed, to be consistent with the other terms you used (queued, started, finished...), and it sounds better as a standalone word for a state or attribute.


I work in a Software company and the terms we use the most to notify the completion of an ongoing process or task would be:

  • Completed
  • Closed
  • Terminated (Used most often for a bug issue or a problem)
  • Ended/ Concluded (very vague)

Out of which, the most used terms are 'Completed' and 'Closed'. For a technical process or a task, we use 'closed' more commonly.


I would use completed in a verbal structure, and complete as an adjective. Here's a dumb example:

The task has been completed, it is now complete.

I can't guarantee you this is the right way to use them though, hoping for some feedback.

  • This word won't be used in a sentence, it will be used as a table cell value.
    – Vadik
    May 24, 2016 at 9:10
  • In this case, I think "completed" as "having gone through the process of completion" makes sense, but I don't see "complete" being wrong either. Next to "not yet started" and "started", I would definitely use "completed".
    – Azami
    May 24, 2016 at 9:12

In the context, they both are quite similar in meaning. However, the adjective "complete" refers to a state of completeness, whereas passive form of the verb "to complete" suggests a finished action/process. Since the state of the task is a finished/completed process, I would, too, use "completed".


I think it should be 'completed'. Just like 'finished'.


Complete is a state of being; there is nothing that can be added or changed. Whereas completed is an act of completion - the task that was set has now been fulfilled. For example "The Bible is complete and has been completed".

  • I don't know if that's a distinction in a dictionary, but in general usage people will describe as task as complete once it has been done.
    – SamBC
    Feb 8, 2019 at 21:49

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