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 call on the field was upheld, and Bregman officially reached first on a throwing error from Lucroy. Charlotte Carroll,, "Watch: Astros Win on One of the Weirdest Walk-Offs in Baseball History," 11 July 2018 Kipnis scored on an error and Naquin was plated on a ground out for an early 4-0 advantage. Bobby Nightengale,, "Cincinnati Reds score 7 runs in the 9th inning, stun Cleveland Indians for comeback win," 10 July 2018 USA TODAY Conservatives jumped on an error in a statement released Tuesday night by the organizers of last year's Women's March on Washington in response to President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Women's March slammed for goof in statement on Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination," 10 July 2018 Just as strange, shortstop Nick Ahmed let a hard hopper by Eric Hosmer get by him and Myers scored on the error. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Shelby Miller much better this time out, but Diamondbacks still fall to the Padres," 5 July 2018 But Williams and Kingery scored on an egregious error by Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who moved one step to his left and couldn’t get his glove down on Jorge Alfaro’s grounder. Scott Lauber,, "Phillies top Orioles as Aaron Nola delivers another ace-worthy outing," 4 July 2018 Jonathan Schoop beat out an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error in the ninth inning, but ended the game there. Jon Meoli,, "Orioles have their chances, but fail to capitalize in 3-2 loss to Phillies," 4 July 2018 Officials say the system should help avert deadly train collisions often blamed on human error. Carole Carlson, Post-Tribune, "South Shore fare hike takes effect Sunday," 28 June 2018 Torres singled and Thorburn reached on error with one out. Randy Mcroberts, The Aegis, "Aberdeen's attempt for sweep slips away early in lopsided loss to Vermont," 27 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

10 Oct 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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