er·​ror | \ˈer-ər, ˈe-rər\

Definition of error 

1a : an act or condition of ignorant or imprudent deviation from a code of behavior

b : an act involving an unintentional deviation from truth or accuracy made an error in adding up the bill

c : an act that through ignorance, deficiency, or accident departs from or fails to achieve what should be done an error in judgment : such as

(1) : a defensive misplay other than a wild pitch or passed ball made by a baseball player when normal play would have resulted in an out or prevented an advance by a base runner

(2) : the failure of a player (as in tennis) to make a successful return of a ball during play

d : a mistake in the proceedings of a court of record in matters of law or of fact

2a : the quality or state of erring the map is in error

b Christian Science : illusion about the nature of reality that is the cause of human suffering : the contradiction of truth

c : an instance of false belief

3 : something produced by mistake a typographical error especially : a postage stamp exhibiting a consistent flaw (such as a wrong color) in its manufacture

4a : the difference between an observed or calculated value and a true value specifically : variation in measurements, calculations, or observations of a quantity due to mistakes or to uncontrollable factors

b : the amount of deviation from a standard or specification

5 : a deficiency or imperfection in structure or function an error of metabolism

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Other Words from error

errorless \ ˈer-​ər-​ləs , ˈe-​rər-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for error

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

error, mistake, and blunder mean an act or statement that is not right or true or proper. error is used for failure to follow a model correctly. There was an error in the addition. mistake is used when someone misunderstands something or does not intend to do wrong. I took someone else's coat by mistake. blunder is used for a stupid, careless, or thoughtless mistake. The actors made several blunders during the play.

Examples of error in a Sentence

I made an error in my calculations. They uncovered several errors in his report to the committee. The paper contains numerous spelling errors. horrifying cases of hospital error The shortstop was charged with an error.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The survey of 696 likely Hispanic voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. Anthony Man,, "Rick Scott leads Bill Nelson in poll of South Florida Hispanic voters," 12 July 2018 The latest poll of 1,020 voters across the country has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. Christopher Keating,, "Q Poll: Trump Disapproval Rating at 55 Percent," 3 July 2018 But those on the hard right who equate white Western civilization with the Roman empire are in profound error. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Rod Dreher’s Bad History," 3 July 2018 The poll was conducted in English and Chinese from June 17 to 20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent. Matier & Ross,, "SF Mayor-elect London Breed coming into office with plenty of support," 2 July 2018 The survey of 1,083 Florida adults, conducted just before Kennedy announced his departure, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Court vacancy adds to hot-button issues in Florida Senate race between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson," 2 July 2018 The alert — which wasn't corrected for approximately 38 minutes — was sent in an error by an employee who pushed the wrong button, the agency said. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Hawaii emergency workers slept on the job, emails showed in aftermath of fake missile alert," 27 June 2018 The poll surveyed over 900 voters across the country and had a margin of error of plus or minus approximately four percentage points. Abby Vesoulis, Time, "Republicans Were the Only Group in This Poll to Support Trump's Family Separation Policy," 18 June 2018 City officials said the last-minute post card was sent in error by Strive. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora City Council questions bill for election mailings," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'error.' 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 error

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for error

Middle English errour, from Anglo-French, from Latin error, from errare

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Statistics for error

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for error

The first known use of error was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for error



English Language Learners Definition of error

: something that is not correct : a wrong action or statement

: a mistake made by a person who is playing a sport (such as baseball or tennis)


er·​ror | \ˈer-ər \

Kids Definition of error

: a failure to be correct or accurate : mistake He made an error in spelling.


er·​ror | \ˈer-ər \

Medical Definition of error 

: a deficiency or imperfection in structure or function inborn errors of metabolism

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Legal Definition of error 

: an act that through ignorance, deficiency, or accident departs from or fails to achieve what should be done procedural errors especially : a mistake made by a lower court in conducting judicial proceedings or making findings in a case to compel to conclusion that a manifest error has been done Moses v. Burgin, 445 F.2d 369 (1971) often used without an article had been error to give the jury special interrogatories — K. A. Cohen ; — see also assignment of error, clearly erroneous

Note: Generally a party must object to an error at trial in order to raise it as an issue on appeal.

clear error

: an error made by a judge in his or her findings of fact which is such that it leaves the reviewing court with the firm and definite conviction that a mistake has been made

Note: A clear error may or may not warrant reversal.

fundamental error

: plain error in this entry used especially in criminal cases

harmless error

: an error that does not affect a substantial right or change the outcome of a trial and does not warrant reversal or other modification of the lower court's decision on appeal

invited error

: an error resulting from a party's own request for or encouragement of an action by the court

Note: A party may not seek relief based on invited error that he or she has induced.

manifest error

: an error that is obvious and indisputable and that warrants reversal on appeal

plain error

: an obvious and prejudicial error that affects the substantial rights of the parties and that results or probably results in a miscarriage of justice

Note: Plain error warrants reversal on appeal even in the absence of objection to the error at trial.

prejudicial error

: an error that affects or presumptively affects the outcome of a trial

reversible error

: a substantial and prejudicial error warranting reversal on appeal

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Comments on error

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