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Definition: timeout

In communications, the intentional ending of an incomplete task. If an acknowledgment, carrier, logon, etc., has not occurred in a specified amount of time, the timeout ends the waiting loop so that the request can be retransmitted or the process terminated. Timeouts are common in communications applications in order to free up a line or port that is tied up with a request that has not been answered in a reasonable amount of time. For each type of situation, there is a default length of time before the timeout is initiated, which typically can be adjusted by the user or network administrator. See tickle packet.