err

verb
\ ˈer , ˈər \
erred; erring; errs

Definition of err

intransitive verb

1 archaic : stray
2a : to make a mistake erred in his calculations erred on the side of caution
b : to violate an accepted standard of conduct

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Is it human to err?

Many people are familiar with the word err from encountering it in the epigram “to err is human; to forgive, divine.” This phrase is found in Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism, from 1711. Earlier expressions of the same sentiment exist, as in Thomas Jones’ 1678 book, Of the Heart, and its Right Soveraign, which contains the line “to err, is human, to recover, is Angelical; to persevere is Diabolical.”

Err is also often found in the phrase err on the side of caution, to suggest that being overly cautious is better than not being cautious enough.

Err stems from the Latin word errare, meaning “to stray, wander,” and it retained that meaning when it first entered English. We find the same Latin ancestor at the root of the words error, erratic, and erroneous.

Examples of err in a Sentence

I may have erred in my calculations. The court erred in refusing to allow bail.

Recent Examples on the Web

Senate Majority Leader Mia Costello said legislators are erring on the side of caution and in some cases declining meetings. Becky Bohrer, The Seattle Times, "Some Alaska lawmakers say new ethics rules are too limiting," 10 Feb. 2019 Service ☆​☆​☆​☆​​ Highly professional, impeccably timed and so well trained that servers, if anything, err on the side of offering too much information about dishes and wines. Kate Washington, sacbee, "If Allora can learn to relax a little, it will be one of the city's best restaurants | The Sacramento Bee," 11 May 2018 The team responsible for restoring this pair of games has erred on the side of authenticity. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Shenmue I & II impressions: A gaming history lesson, but it feels like school," 20 Aug. 2018 Pundits often err in conflating the message with the messenger, the politician with his politics. Gregory Krieg, CNN, "There's a new Democratic agenda taking shape. It's more and more progressive. Can it survive success?," 30 Apr. 2018 Your guests—err, fellow passengers—don't need to know a thing. Cassie Shortsleeve, Condé Nast Traveler, "Getting Married in the Sky Is Actually Pretty Complicated," 9 Feb. 2018 Within seven hours, police released a statement that the officer erred by entering Jean’s apartment. David Warren, The Seattle Times, "Dallas police respond to shooting with proactive approach," 12 Sep. 2018 Jolie tends to err on the side of sophistication even on her casual outings, and her latest look is the perfect example. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Angelina Jolie Makes Going Strapless Look Easy and Elegant," 27 Aug. 2018 Lastly, the tribe argues that the district court erred by entering judgment against it as an intervenor. News Service Of Florida, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Federal court rules that Miccosukee tribal member must pay income taxes," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'err.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of err

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for err

Middle English, from Anglo-French errer, from Latin errare to wander, err; akin to Old English ierre wandering, perverse, Goth airzeis deceived

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Statistics for err

Last Updated

18 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for err

The first known use of err was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for err

err

verb

English Language Learners Definition of err

formal : to make a mistake

err

verb
\ ˈer , ˈər\
erred; erring

Kids Definition of err

: to make a mistake
\ ˈer, ˈər \

Legal Definition of err

: to make an error the court erred in denying the motion

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More from Merriam-Webster on err

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with err

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for err

Spanish Central: Translation of err

Nglish: Translation of err for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of err for Arabic Speakers

Comments on err

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