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verb mis·take \mə-ˈstāk\

Simple Definition of mistake

  • : to understand (something or someone) incorrectly

  • : to make a wrong judgment about (something)

  • : to identify (someone or something) incorrectly

Full Definition of mistake

mis·took play \-ˈstu̇k\ mis·tak·en play \-ˈstā-kən\ mis·tak·ing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to blunder in the choice of <mistook her way in the dark>

  3. 2 a :  to misunderstand the meaning or intention of :  misinterpret <don't mistake me, I mean exactly what I said> b :  to make a wrong judgment of the character or ability of

  4. 3 :  to identify wrongly :  confuse with another <I mistook him for his brother>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to be wrong <you mistook when you thought I laughed at you — Thomas Hardy>

mis·tak·en·ly adverb
mis·tak·er noun

Examples of mistake

  1. <the auctioneer mistook my nod for a bid, and I ended up buying a painting I don't even like>

  2. <you seriously mistake me if you think I scare so easily>

Origin of mistake

Middle English

First Known Use: 14th century



noun mis·take

Simple Definition of mistake

  • : something that is not correct : a wrong action, statement, or judgment

Full Definition of mistake

  1. 1 :  a wrong judgment :  misunderstanding

  2. 2 :  a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention

Examples of mistake

  1. It would be a mistake to assume that we can rely on their help.

  2. There must be some mistake.

  3. The manuscript contains numerous spelling mistakes.

  4. There's a mistake in the schedule.

  5. When does the movie start? At 8:00. No, wait—my mistake—it starts at 8:30.


First Known Use of mistake


Synonym Discussion of mistake

error, mistake, blunder, slip, lapse mean a departure from what is true, right, or proper. error suggests the existence of a standard or guide and a straying from the right course through failure to make effective use of this <procedural errors>. mistake implies misconception or inadvertence and usually expresses less criticism than error <dialed the wrong number by mistake>. blunder regularly imputes stupidity or ignorance as a cause and connotes some degree of blame <diplomatic blunders>. slip stresses inadvertence or accident and applies especially to trivial but embarrassing mistakes <a slip of the tongue>. lapse stresses forgetfulness, weakness, or inattention as a cause <a lapse in judgment>.

Seen and Heard

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February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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