err

verb
\ ˈer How to pronounce err (audio) , ˈər How to pronounce err (audio) \
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

Carvalhal probably should be given a chance at building a bit of a legacy in Swansea, but erring on the side of caution would be a wise decision. SI.com, "FanView: Carvalhal Has Done a Great Job at Swansea But There's Reason to Hesitate on a New Deal," 11 Apr. 2018 Even Hillary Clinton recently acknowledged that Chancellor Angela Merkel erred by admitting a million Middle Eastern migrants in 2015. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Storming the Southern Border," 26 Nov. 2018 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said Wednesday that a lower court erred by overturning the conviction of Sam Ukwuachu (oo-kuh-WAH'-choo) based on text messages between the victim and a friend that had not been allowed in trial. Fox News, "Texas court reinstates Baylor sex assault conviction," 6 June 2018 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said a lower court erred by overturning the conviction of Sam Ukwuachu based on text messages between the victim and a friend that had not been allowed in trial. Jim Vertuno, Houston Chronicle, "Texas court reinstates ex-Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu's sex assault conviction," 6 June 2018 Much like Carter’s critics, Eizenstat believes the president erred by holing up in the White House consumed by the impasse while taking even the theoretical threat of military force off the table. Peter Baker, New York Times, "Was Jimmy Carter the Most Underrated President in History?," 5 June 2018 Tucker told the jury Donaldson erred by not waiting long enough to see whether the Taser shots were working, then compounded that mistake by backing himself into the corner of the porch and not taking the stairs. Michael Gordon, charlotteobserver, "Ex-Myers Park teacher testifies police shooting of his son 'didn't have to happen'," 5 Apr. 2018 In his appeal, Gates said the district court erred by not preventing the state's criminal prosecution. Robert Rhoden, NOLA.com, "Appeals court upholds dismissal of civil rights suit against St. Tammany Sheriff's Office," 26 Mar. 2018 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

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 Mar 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 How to pronounce err (audio) , ˈər\
erred; erring

Kids Definition of err

: to make a mistake
\ ˈer, ˈər How to pronounce err (audio) \

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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