TBD – Meaning, Origin and Usage

While planning or working on a project, you may come across the acronym TBD. Maybe you are in the middle of a project, but want to leave one section for later, if so, TBD can come in handy. But what does TBD mean? TBD stands for “to be determined.” It’s used when the details of something haven’t been finalized yet. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


TBD stands for “to be determined.” It can be used as a placeholder for unknown or undecided information. When you see the acronym TBD, the person writing or speaking hasn’t decided on the specifics yet. In other words, the details of the situation are still up in the air.

This term is commonly used in event planning. For example, if you’re organizing a conference, you might list the keynote speaker as TBD on the event website. That way, people interested in attending will know that you haven’t finalized the details yet but that someone special will be giving a talk.

TBD can also be used when working on a project with others; certain aspects still need to be ironed out. For example, let’s say you’re starting a new job, and your boss asks you to put together a presentation. She might tell you that the topic is TBD, meaning she hasn’t decided on the subject matter yet.

Example Usage

“I’m sorry, the date of the party is still TBD.”

“We don’t have a confirmed location yet, so it’s TBD.”

“The project is due next week, but the topic is still TBD.”

“I’ll send you the details when they’re finalized. For now, it’s TBD.”

Origin of TBD

The earliest known use of the phrase “to be determined” is from the 1990s, when it was used in business settings. This phrase was likely shortened to “TBD” for convenience’s sake. The acronym became more popular in the early 2000s and is now used in everyday conversation.

Phrases Similar to TBD

  • “To be announced” is another phrase with a similar meaning.
  • “Pending,” means that something is waiting to happen.
  • “Up in the air” is another idiom you can use to describe a situation that hasn’t been decided yet.
  • “On hold” is another phrase with similar meaning.

Phrases Opposite to TBD

  • “Confirmed,” is the opposite of TBD. It means that something has been decided or finalized.
  • “Set in stone,” means that something cannot be changed.
  • “Settled” is another word with similar meaning.
  • “No longer up for discussion,” means that the matter has been decided and is not open for debate.
  • “Concrete,” means that something is definite.

What is The Correct Saying?

  • The phrase “to be determined” is the most common way to say this. However, you may also see people say “TBD.”

Ways People May Incorrectly Say TBD

Mostly everyone knows what the acronym TBD stands for, but many people don’t know how to correctly use it in a sentence. Some people might say, “The conference will be at TBD.” Here are some examples of improper usage:

  • We are finally announcing our TBD plans for the wedding tonight!
  • Thanks for letting us know about your TBD schedule for the trip, it will help us plan our days off.
  • There is no such thing as TBD, after all, everything is set in stone.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase TBD

TBD is used in informal settings. You might see it used in emails or text messages between friends. It’s common to see it used on social media, such as Twitter or Facebook. Here are some examples of proper usage:

  • We know the exact date of the play, but the reversals are still TBH due to the weather.
  • We have an estimated date for delivery, but the set-up and execution of the project are still TBD.
  • You can’t really book a flight for your vacation if your actual visa approval date is still TBD.
  • Let me know once you get that TBD section completed so I can finish the project.

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