ABnormal END (of task)

Word Quiz: abend

Anyone know what that means? Me neither, and I consider myself to have a better-than-average command of English vocabulary.

I have a number of colleagues working as System Support personnel, and frequently hear them referring to this word. From the context of their sentences, I gathered that it meant some kind of error, requiring some manual fix. Thus, I had always assumed that the word was “amend”. I was wondering why they were always pronouncing it with a peculiar emphasis on the “m”, making it sound more like a “b”

On a sudden whim today, I looked up the word “abend” on Dictionary.com, and got this result:

<jargon> /o’bend/, /*-bend’/ ABnormal END.
Abnormal termination (of software); crash; lossage. Derives from an error message on the IBM 360; used jokingly by hackers but seriously mainly by code grinders.
Usually capitalised, but may appear as “abend”.
Hackers will try to persuade you that ABEND is called “abend” because it is what system operators do to the computer late on Friday when they want to call it a day, and hence is from the German “Abend” = “Evening”.

So much for my vocabulary.


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