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When I use crashed for computers, that means my computer stops working suddenly. To imply similar meaning for cars, should I choose broken or crashed? What I understand from crashed is having an accident instead of spontaneous problem.

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

When a computer crashes, it's the same as when the computer breaks down.

A car, on the other hand, can only break down in the same sense. If a car crashes, that means you get into a car accident and actually crash your car into another car or other object.

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So a crashed car is always broken , but not vice versa. – TimLymington Nov 20 '11 at 0:19
A crashed car may still work, however. – GEdgar Nov 20 '11 at 1:33
@GEdgar's got a point there. Neither of them are necessarily connected. – RiMMER Nov 20 '11 at 1:34
As computers become more and more integrated with cars, a car crash could lead to a car crash, or vise versa. – Sam Nov 20 '11 at 4:43
@RiMMERΨ: So I'd say my car broke down [v], breakdowned [v], or something else? I have always been saying the car had a break down. – Kris Nov 20 '11 at 11:25

Crashed has a specific meaning in computing that refers to a runtime anomaly. That is, we can say that our program crashed, which means that it entered an invalid state or attempted something that was forbidden or invalid and (usually) was stopped by the operating system or itself.

If a computer is broken, that means it's not functional, and often implies that it's a physical problem. Or, it could mean that the software logic is incorrect (or incorrectly written). Broken programs might give incorrect results but never crash.

If you have software that just sits there, it might be broken but it will never crash unless you attempt to use it. Broken software may or may not crash, and software that crashes may or may not be broken (for certain values of "broken").

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Computers don't crash; computer software does. When a piece of software encounters an irrecoverable error, it crashes. – Kris Nov 20 '11 at 11:29

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