I'm looking for a single word that means "root of the issue" or "cause of the problem".

I found the single words "origin", "cause", and "basis", but they do not indicate the negativity experienced from an issue or a problem.

I'm looking to say "I found the _____!".

  • 1
    While crux does mean "root of the issue" but would not work in your sentence.
    – tk421
    Aug 9, 2019 at 16:47
  • @nnnnnn I think culprit is a great option. Why don't you add it as an answer? Aug 9, 2019 at 16:58
  • For some reason at the time I didn't think it was adequate as an answer so I just posted a comment to at least let you know of the option. I didn't delete my comment though - I assume a moderator must have found it inappropriate and deleted it.
    – nnnnnn
    Aug 10, 2019 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


Perhaps strangely, I'd say the most idiomatic word for cause of the problem is actually problem itself:

2 b : a source of perplexity, distress, or vexation

In short:

I found the problem!

Since this sense of the word means source, it already has the implied meaning of source of the issue or, in other words, cause of the problem. It's somewhat recursive, but it's still natural usage.

Another word, which seems to have been suggested in a now-deleted comment under the question, is culprit:

3 : the source or cause of a problem
// Lack of exercise and poor diet are the main culprits in heart disease.

In the example sentence used in its definition, culprit seems a better choice than problem would be.

However, in the sentence I found the ___!, Google Books Ngram Viewer suggests that problem is the more common word, at least in print.

I found the problem

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