I have an error message that describes the cause for a problem/crash in my application. What is an adjective I can use to refer to that error message?

I would like to say something like this:

This is the [adjective] error:

To mean this:

This is the error that caused the crash:

Is there a good adjective that clearly indicates that the noun it is describing to is the cause of the problem the speaker/writer is referring to?

  • You’ve already said that it caused the crash. Why would you need to say it again? “This is the crash-causing error that caused the crash” seems needlessly repetitive and redundant. I suppose you could say original error or originating error, but I still think “that caused the crash” has enough info in it.
    – tchrist
    Jul 17, 2014 at 17:54
  • 1
    @tchrist I'm not looking for a way to say it again, but a different way to say it (instead of saying that it caused the problem) that is simpler and more clear, if such a way exists. I wouldn't say both ways at the same time.
    – iBelieve
    Jul 17, 2014 at 18:05
  • Problematic, troublesome?
    – Gob Ties
    Jul 17, 2014 at 18:16
  • 2
    OP's example reads to me like a request for an adjective suitable for describing an error message, which seems a bit pointless. What needs to be looked at isn't the error message, it's the offending code. Jul 18, 2014 at 3:31

5 Answers 5


Consider using the adjective causative.


Consider decisive. According to Merriam-Webster,

causing something to end in a particular way : determining what the result of something will be

Similarly, critical. Also from M-W

crucial, decisive: a critical test


I might say one of these:

  • "This is the lethal error."
  • "Here is the critical error."
  • "Here is the fatal error."


From Google:

constituting or presenting a problem or difficulty.

In the context of "Show me the problem"

On could answer:

This is the problematic error:


I know, not an adjective, but it's just too common not to mention.

You are looking for the root cause.

Since you mention your app, have a look at the wikipedia article about root cause analysis. It is a very commonly used word in the IT industry to indicate the - well - root cause that actually caused your problem.

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