In project management for software development our bosses have introduced quality gates. The idea is to reach a certain level of quality before the project can continue in the next phase.

Now, the criteria for that are called gating criteria and I wonder whether gating is a good choice. Looking up the Oxford dictionary, there's no such word.

The most likely reason for that is the German origin of our country and no native speakers are involved.

If gating criteria is not a valid word, then what is the valid word for what I described above?

  • 1
    While the abridged dictionaries provided by oxforddictionaries.com might not recognize "gating" as a word, Wikipedia sure does, at least in technical (jargon) contexts. The OED also recognizes it, with early quotes focusing on the punishment meaning, but later ones on the technical ones.
    – R.M.
    Jun 28, 2016 at 15:11
  • Gating criteria doesn't seem unreasonable to me as a software developer. We speak of things as "gated" (meaning further progress is blocked by the gate -- some process which must complete successfully).
    – eques
    Mar 6, 2018 at 20:14

5 Answers 5


"Gating" is not a standard English word, but it's a reasonable word to invent in this context.

A "gate" is, of course, a barrier that can be opened and closed. So in order to "open" the gate so your project can pass to the next level, you need to meet certain criteria. Their are criteria for the gate.

We sometimes add -ing to a word for a "thing" to change it into a process or subject area. Like, we sell our products to the "market". We call this process "marketing". We attach two pieces of metal together with a "weld". We call this process "welding". Etc.

So, we pass through a "gate". We call this process "gating".

There are already common words for this idea, as @probablyme says. But if you're inventing a new technique, it's common to invent new words for it. At best this is to prevent confusion with older ideas that are similar but not quite the same. At worst it is to make it sound like you've invented something truly new when really you just have a minor refinement of existing ideas.

  • A perfectly good answer, though I would argue that the verb "gate" is a standard English word, given that it appears in dictionaries without any qualification: "gate verb - ... 3: to control with a gate". Of course, whether or not a word is "standard" is a subjective distiction, but I merely point out that no invention is needed in this case; the word can simply be taken directly from a dictionary.
    – apsillers
    Jun 28, 2016 at 16:29
  • @apsillers Of course "gate (n)" appears in dictionaries. But "gating (n)" does not. It's not being used as a verb here but as a noun.
    – Jay
    Jun 29, 2016 at 4:59
  • 1
    I see -- I was reading "gating" here as an adjective created by a standard present-participle form of "gate (v)", so "gating criteria" would simply be "criteria that gate". Looking more closely at your "welding" example, though, I understand your meaning: "welding supplies" doesn't mean "supplies that weld" but rather "supplies related to the practice of welding".
    – apsillers
    Jun 29, 2016 at 11:47

The term acceptance criteria is widely used in relation to the conditions that must be satisfied before a software system is released to the customer, but it can also be used about parts of a system. It could therefore be used about the individual phases in the development process.

That said, it's a specialized term and if the term is only used within one organization, you can use any term you like, as long as it will be understood by everybody involved: why not stick to gating criteria?

  • I'd like that other people (new employees etc) can understand it without being trained. But something like "phase acceptance criteria" is certainly acceptable. We use "acceptance criteria" for the customer acceptance test already. Jun 28, 2016 at 12:58
  • @Thomas: "phase acceptance criteria" sounds fine to me.
    – JavaLatte
    Jun 28, 2016 at 13:04
  • @JavaLatte In a technical context, "phase acceptance criteria" sounds to me like a poor attempt to translate "phase margin," which a completely different concept to what the OP is talking about. "To gate" meaning "to confine" has been a verb in British English for centuries, so the meaning of "gating criteria" is fairly obvious in BrE.
    – alephzero
    Jun 28, 2016 at 15:53

"Gating criteria" sounds strange to me.

I like

: the point or level at which something begins or changes


We have to reach a certain threshold before we can move on.

I think these might work too.

  1. continuation level/point/criteria
  2. transition level/point/criteria

I don't really see a problem with "quality levels", or "levels of quality"

We have to reach certain (quality levels)/(levels of quality) before we can move on.



(Noun) A thing that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist.

(Adjective) Required as a prior condition.

You could use it as a noun like so:

"We can't start work on the next phase until we complete the prerequisites."

"This criteria is a prerequisite for the next phase."

Or you could use it as an adjective like so:

"We can't start work on the next phase until we satisfy the prerequisite criteria."

"This is a prerequisite criteria for the next phase."

Often in casual, or informal business settings, prerequisite is spoken in a shortened form: prereq, pronounced /priːˈrɛk, as in "Hey, did you hear they made this a prereq for phase two?"


The term advancement criteria (or criteria for advancement) is widely used in various fields, including education and sports, where some entity has to progress by steps toward a particular goal.1 I think it would be well-understood in your context from the plain meaning of the words. The relevant definition of advancement (MW 1.b) is

progression to a higher stage of development

1 In the realm of education, the steps might be passing each class or year on the way to graduation for students, or passing each step of the promotion process on the way to tenure or full professorship for teachers/faculty. In the realm of sports, it could be winning tournament games or racking up enough wins vs losses on the way to some sort of championship.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .