DES
21:12, Mon 7 Oct
Ain’t nothing but a house party.. the showstoppers! I saw them perhaps at The swan!
Around 1967, I’ve always taken it to be something Great!
But in auto industry they morphed line stopper into showstopper, so correct answer is it can mean either!
Kro
00:46, Tue 8 Oct
Haircut1000
Me and my daughter have been arguing over the meaning of a "showstopper".

Is it something bad (i.e. a potential problem that could muck everything in a project up)?

Or is it something good (i.e. something really amazing in a performance or event)?

I know what side I'm on.

You are both right:

NOUN

1 informal A song or other performance receiving prolonged applause from the audience.

‘he wants every scene to be a showstopper’

Synonyms

1.1 Something that is striking or has great popular appeal.

‘the brilliant orange flowers against the bronze-green foliage were a showstopper’


2 informal: An obstacle to further progress.

‘the subsidy limits proved to be a showstopper for other senior Democrats who refused to pass the bill with such restrictions’


2.1 Computing: A bug that needs to be fixed before a piece of software can be used or released.

‘there were several last minute showstoppers that derailed the Beta 2 rollout’
14:06, Tue 8 Oct
Haircut1000
Me and my daughter have been arguing over the meaning of a "showstopper".

Is it something bad (i.e. a potential problem that could muck everything in a project up)?

Or is it something good (i.e. something really amazing in a performance or event)?

I know what side I'm on.

You are both right:

NOUN

1 informal A song or other performance receiving prolonged applause from the audience.

‘he wants every scene to be a showstopper’

Synonyms

1.1 Something that is striking or has great popular appeal.

‘the brilliant orange flowers against the bronze-green foliage were a showstopper’


2 informal: An obstacle to further progress.

‘the subsidy limits proved to be a showstopper for other senior Democrats who refused to pass the bill with such restrictions’


2.1 Computing: A bug that needs to be fixed before a piece of software can be used or released.

‘there were several last minute showstoppers that derailed the Beta 2 rollout’

I think you misunderstand what dictionaries do ... if a word is used incorrectly (as "showstopper" is when used to mean something bad) it still qualifies to be in the dictionary.

a bit like "scan" being used to read quickly... as in "i scanned through the legislation" ... whereas "scan" actually means to read intently. The way everyone uses it is "to read quickly" .. but that is only in the dictionary now because everyone misuses it.


scan ... [dictionary.cambridge.org]
18:46, Tue 8 Oct
Rags
Haircut1000
Me and my daughter have been arguing over the meaning of a "showstopper".

Is it something bad (i.e. a potential problem that could muck everything in a project up)?

Or is it something good (i.e. something really amazing in a performance or event)?

I know what side I'm on.

You are both right:

NOUN

1 informal A song or other performance receiving prolonged applause from the audience.

‘he wants every scene to be a showstopper’

Synonyms

1.1 Something that is striking or has great popular appeal.

‘the brilliant orange flowers against the bronze-green foliage were a showstopper’


2 informal: An obstacle to further progress.

‘the subsidy limits proved to be a showstopper for other senior Democrats who refused to pass the bill with such restrictions’


2.1 Computing: A bug that needs to be fixed before a piece of software can be used or released.

‘there were several last minute showstoppers that derailed the Beta 2 rollout’

I think you misunderstand what dictionaries do ... if a word is used incorrectly (as "showstopper" is when used to mean something bad) it still qualifies to be in the dictionary.

a bit like "scan" being used to read quickly... as in "i scanned through the legislation" ... whereas "scan" actually means to read intently. The way everyone uses it is "to read quickly" .. but that is only in the dictionary now because everyone misuses it.


scan ... [dictionary.cambridge.org]

So?

What's your point?

Language evolves and currently all three definitions of showstopper are valid.
23:11, Tue 8 Oct
I am just surprised showstopper has meanings that are totally at odds with each other apart from the fact that an interruption is involved.
00:01, Wed 9 Oct
Haircut1000
I am just surprised showstopper has meanings that are totally at odds with each other apart from the fact that an interruption is involved.

It's a contronym - which is a word that evokes contradictory meanings depending on the context.

English language has many of them.

Look up contronym if you are interested.
00:29, Wed 9 Oct
What, like Mayor = chief citizen of a town or Mayor = beardy Blues ? Is that a contronym?
06:57, Wed 9 Oct
In some senses, both aspects of this argument are correct.

Originally 'show stopper' was two separate words meaning literally that : some part of a performance that was so good that it stopped the show either by prolonged applause or demands from the audience to hear the song/aria/soliloquy/movement again.

As the expression clearly powerfully expressed an idea, the words were joined together to make a 'new' word 'showstopper'

Later, other folk looking for a powerful image to describe something so bad that it would stop a process saw the strength in the image created by 'showstopper' and applied it to that bad situation.

Although I think it subverts the original meaning of showstopper to use it in a negative sense, it does powerfully and simply express the idea that here is something bad that has happened that will 'stop the show'

Thus I think the positive meaning was the original one, but the negative one has gained validity.
This is how a language evolves - it happens all the time and is a good thing.

The etymology section of the proper OED is a fascinating place to look up such things.

But ultimately surely folk can understand what kind of showstopper is implied by context...because if context was confused, language wouldn't be communicating clearly...so folk would change the usage.