Abnormal End

What Does Abnormal End Mean?

Abnormal End (ABEND) is an abnormal or unexpected termination of a task in software. It occurs when a software program crashes due to errors. Generally errors in a software application or the operating system cause ABEND.


Techopedia Explains Abnormal End

The term ABEND gets its name from an error message seen in IBM OS/360 systems. The term is claimed to have derived from the German word "abend", which means "evening". When an ABEND occurs the system may stop responding, causing the program to close abruptly.

An ABEND may occur in two scenarios:

  1. When the system is given a set of instructions that it cannot handle or recognize
  2. When a program tries to address a memory space beyond a specific limit

Modern operating systems are designed to prevent the system from rebooting by allowing only the offending application to halt or close. Other applications will continue to run normally. Modern operating systems are also more bug resistant than their predecessors, but some application bugs do cause the operating system to hang or lock up, requiring a reboot.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…