Tech & Science dictionary

blue screen of death

or Blue Screen of Death or BSOD [ bloo skreen uhv deth ]

What is the blue screen of death?

The blue screen of death is a melodramatic nickname given to a blue screen that appears when a device running a Windows operating system experiences a severe error.  

In popular culture, Microsoft's blue screen of death is one of the most dreaded and despised error messages in all of technology. It serves as a sign that something terrible has occurred, and it informs the user that whatever they were working on cannot be saved. 

Example: I was working on my thesis when I suddenly got the blue screen of death, and none of my work was saved.

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Related words

spinning wheel of death, 🖥️ Desktop Computer emoji, ⌨️ Keyboard emoji

Where does blue screen of death come from?

As the name implies, the blue screen of death is a screen that turns blue with white text telling the user an error has occurred and none of their work will be saved. 

The actual blue error message dates back to the early 1990s, when it was used in the Windows 3.0 operating system. According to The Atlantic, the term blue screen of death actually goes back even further to the development of the first versions of the Windows operating systems. At the time, a blue screen would occasionally appear and interrupt computer operations. Microsoft embraced the concept of a blue screen as an alert of sorts, and by the mid-1990s, the term blue screen of death was commonly used to refer to the now infamous error screen.

Funnily enough, Microsoft has long been aware of how much users hate the blue screen of death. In 2012, the error message was updated, so as to be more user-friendly, and it now includes a sad face to express sympathy at the user’s troubles. Despite Microsoft’s good intentions, the blue screen of death is still the bane of many computer users’ existence.

Examples of blue screen of death

My computer got the blue screen of death 1 1/2 wks ago. It’s still in the shop. I haven’t missed it!
@runcamille, July 21, 2020
If your PC is prone to those dreaded 'blue screen of death' (BSOD) errors and you are running a Radeon GPU, the culprit could be your graphics driver.
Paul Lilly, PC Gamer, October 8, 2020

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Who uses blue screen of death?

The blue screen of death still causes rage, panic, and sadness in many Windows users.

Did you know … ?

  • The abbreviation BSOD is also commonly used. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, the blue screen of death is not an error itself but is meant to warn users of an error. 
  • The spinning wheel of death is the analog to the blue screen of death on Apple Mac operating systems.

The verb phrase blue screen is used to refer to being suddenly sent to the blue screen of death.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of blue screen of death like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of blue screen of death that will help our users expand their word mastery.