Is there a term, more colloquial than professional, that expresses the severity of a bug. "This computer bug is so bad, nobody can use the software as intended". In a sentence is would be "This bug is a ____" or this bug is ____ (adj)."

I've heard reference to terms like "critical" and "serious" used professionally in bug tracking software, but that doesn't seem to express well enough just how bad the problem is, seem overused. I need to be able to communicate to management just how terrible, and if a thousand bugs are labeled as "critical" but aren't actually stopping people from doing their work, this needs to be seen as 10x worse.

There must be some kind of term, like "work-stopping" "show-stopper", but I can't quite recall the term.

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    Why do you think “show-stopper” is not the term you’re looking for? – ColleenV Jan 20 at 17:21
  • I thought it was, but then the definition in my dictionary said that is "a performer or performance that wins enthusiastic or prolonged applause." – Village Jan 20 at 17:36
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    Try dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/showstopper something that prevents an activity or process from continuing. I did see that quite a few online dictionaries were missing that meaning though, so there might be more to be said about it. – ColleenV Jan 20 at 17:39
  • Okay, that is then definitely the word I was trying to think. I thought that was the term, but my dictionary said otherwise. How can I delete my question? – Village Jan 20 at 17:40
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    You may want to write an answer instead of deleting. Others may have the same trouble you had with some dictionaries not having that meaning. It’s OK to answer your own question. – ColleenV Jan 20 at 17:41

Words such as “critical” are used informally in -as you’ve observed - fairly meaningless ways. However, they also have formal definitions in many situations.

A service agreement will define the meaning of “critical” and similar words precisely. A service agreement I signed defined “critical” as “severity level 1 or 2”, with severity levels running from 1 (significant and ongoing interruption; unrecoverable data loss) to 4 (general questions and wishes). Obviously I can’t cite this agreement for legal reasons, but if you Google for service agreements, you’ll find examples.

These rankings are not universal, but would be specific to a company or agreement. Consideration is often given to the proportion of users impacted, whether data is lost/corrupted, and whether the functionality impacted is “core” or not.

A company I worked for previously ranked defects from 1 to 3 (plus “as designed” and similar non-issue classifications)

For security issues specifically, CVSS scores are widely used.

These formal definitions avoid issues of inflated language like “absolutely awfully terrible, literally the end of the universe” bugs. When communicating to management about the severity of an issue, formal definitions are good to use.


You can use an array of words, such as; terrible, horrendous, awful, horrible, and others.

I recommend consulting a dictionary any looking for synonyms of the word bad, or any words similar to it. Here is a useful resource in this regard.

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    “There are a whole bunch of words. Go read a thesaurus” is not a very helpful answer. – ColleenV Jan 20 at 17:22
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    I have seen a number of your "answers" come up for review on the LQ queue...could you please do do everyone here a favor and check out the Help Page, especially on how to write a good answer. – Cascabel Jan 20 at 17:23
  • @Cascabel I’m just trying to use my knowledge of the language as a native to help others. Thanks for the link nonetheless, I’ll read it. – The Real Meal Jan 20 at 17:26
  • ...and your efforts are appreciated. That said, there are certain site standards that we need to adhere to. Basically, a good answer should have citation, source, and when possible a link. We don't post answers off the top of our heads unless we are renowned grammarians, or experts in some other way. – Cascabel Jan 20 at 17:33
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    @YosefBaskin I have added links – The Real Meal Jan 20 at 21:53

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