er·​rant | \ˈer-ənt, ˈe-rənt\

Definition of errant 

1 : traveling or given to traveling an errant knight

2a : straying outside the proper path or bounds an errant calf

b : moving about aimlessly or irregularly an errant breeze

c : behaving wrongly an errant child

d : fallible

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from errant

errant noun
errantly adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for errant


bad, contrary, froward, misbehaving, mischievous, naughty


behaved, behaving, nice, orderly

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

Errant has a split history. It comes from Anglo-French, a language in which two confusingly similar verbs with identical spellings ("errer") coexisted. One errer meant "to err" and comes from the Latin errare, meaning "to wander" or "to err." The second errer meant "to travel," and traces to the Latin iter, meaning "road" or "journey." Both "errer" homographs contributed to the development of "errant," which not surprisingly has to do with both moving about and being mistaken. A "knight-errant" travels around in search of adventures. Cowboys round up "errant calves." An "errant child" is one who misbehaves. (You might also see "arrant" occasionally - it's a word that originated as an alteration of "errant" and that usually means "extreme" or "shameless.")

Examples of errant in a Sentence

what he considers to be no more than errant conduct toward women would be regarded as sexual harassment by most people the errant gunslinger as a standard character in western novels

Recent Examples on the Web

Additionally, if the burger has been constructed in accordance with standard protocol, the lettuce will now be under the patty, rather than on top of it, and so will double as a drip guard to catch errant drops of sauce. Rachel Sugar, Vox, "Life hacks offer the siren song of painless self-improvement.," 5 Nov. 2018 No double-parked cars, no errant trash cans, no bikes chained to fences. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Let’s organize the city outside our front door with as much care as we do our homes," 30 Aug. 2018 Basically, there was enough glitter to ensure that anyone within a 10-foot radius of that box would be wiping away the errant sparkle for days afterward. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Can Marie Kondo Conquer Caboodles?," 17 Aug. 2018 An effort by the National Police Service Commission to weed out errant police officers that started in 2012 has been criticized for not doing enough to reform the 99,000-strong force, whose leaders admit corruption is widespread. Tom Odula, Fox News, "Kenya president urges citizens to arrest the corrupt," 12 Aug. 2018 With the ocean search for the wreckage suspended indefinitely, the panel’s unsatisfying conclusion has further dimmed hopes for ever finding the errant plane and the 239 people aboard. Barbara S. Peterson, Popular Mechanics, "Did the Pilot Do it? Final MH370 Report Revives Suspicions of Foul Play," 31 July 2018 In the final minute — and Warren Central leading 56-53 — HSE junior guard Noah Smith stole an errant Warren Central inbounds pass and drained a 3-pointer to tie the score with 20 seconds remaining. Tom Moor, Indianapolis Star, "IHSAA basketball: David Bell hits game-winner to keep Warren Central unbeaten," 6 Jan. 2018 Guance got the first batter out, but a walk, errant pick off throw, single, hit batter and another error led to a pair of Vermont runs. Randy Mcroberts, The Aegis, "Aberdeen's attempt for sweep slips away early in lopsided loss to Vermont," 27 June 2018 An errant slider to Mitch Haniger became the wild pitch that allowed the go-ahead run to score, and the Haniger’s sacrifice fly gave Seattle a 5-3 lead. Eduardo A. Encina,, "Reliever Miguel Castro's walks hurt Orioles in 5-3 loss to Mariners," 25 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of errant

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for errant

Middle English erraunt, from Anglo-French errant, present participle of errer to err & errer to travel, from Late Latin iterare, from Latin iter road, journey — more at itinerant

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about errant

Listen to Our Podcast about errant

Statistics for errant

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for errant

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for errant



English Language Learners Definition of errant

: behaving wrongly

: going outside the proper area

sports : not going in the intended direction : not accurate


er·​rant | \ˈer-ənt \

Kids Definition of errant

1 : wandering in search of adventure an errant knight

2 : straying from a proper course an errant golf ball

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on errant

What made you want to look up errant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!