window of opportunity

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From window (period of time when something is available or possible) +‎ of +‎ opportunity, popularized by its use by the United States Government in the 1970s in reference to the Cold War (1945–1991).[1]



window of opportunity (plural windows of opportunity)

  1. (originally US) A (usually limited) period of time in which suitable action can achieve success.
    • 1999, Stephen Van Evera, “Power Shifts: Windows of Opportunity and Vulnerability”, in Causes of War: Power and the Roots of Conflict, Ithaca, N.Y., London: Cornell University Press, →ISBN, page 102:
      U.S. officials also thought a preventive war [against the Soviet Union] would be costly, and U.S. allies would be disapproving. Thus U.S. leaders saw a fading window of opportunity, but the opportunity was not very attractive; it would not be followed by vulnerability; and it probably would not be followed by a war.
    • 2013 September 20, Marina Hyde, “Is the pope Catholic?”, in Alan Rusbridger, editor, The Guardian[1], London: Guardian News & Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2022-08-15:
      The Lord moves in mysterious ways – though not a thousandth as mysterious as those of his senior personnel from time to time – so there is no earthly possibility of predicting how long the window of opportunity enjoyed by Pope Francis is likely to be.
    • 2022 September 14, Arthur Neslen, quoting Noam Chomsky, “Health groups call for global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty”, in Katharine Viner, editor, The Guardian[2], London: Guardian News & Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2022-12-22:
      There is a narrow window of opportunity to save ourselves, and the innumerable other species that we are destroying with reckless abandon. There is still time to rid ourselves of fossil fuels, not much. We will grasp the opportunity, or the human experiment will come to an inglorious end.

Usage notes[edit]

The term is often used with forms of the word open or close to indicate that an appropriate time for action is available or unavailable.[1]

Alternative forms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 window of opportunity, n.” under “window, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2022; “window of opportunity, phrase”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]