Short for "Abnormal End."

An abend (sometimes capitalized ABEND) is an error that causes an unexpected or abnormal end of a process. It is typically the result of a flaw in a programming instruction that the computer cannot understand. The effect of an abend can be the affected application unexpectedly quitting or becoming unresponsive, sometimes requiring a reboot to resolve.

An abend error indicates that the crash stems from a problem in software rather than a hardware fault. Software programs and operating systems can both be susceptible to abend errors.

The term "abend" comes from the IBM OS/360 database systems of the 1960s, where it was a common error code. Some causes of abend errors were dividing by zero, running out of storage space, or pointing to a memory address that the computer cannot access. The error code is also present in Novell Netware systems. Over time it has become a general programming term for a software-related crash.

Updated October 25, 2022

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