mis·​take | \ mə-ˈstāk How to pronounce mistake (audio) \
mistook\ mə-​ˈstu̇k How to pronounce mistook (audio) \; mistaken\ mə-​ˈstā-​kən How to pronounce mistaken (audio) \; mistaking

Definition of mistake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to blunder in the choice of mistook her way in the dark
2a : to misunderstand the meaning or intention of : misinterpret don't mistake me, I mean exactly what I said
b : to make a wrong judgment of the character or ability of The army's leaders mistook the strength of the enemy.
3 : to identify wrongly : confuse with another I mistook him for his brother

intransitive verb

: to be wrong you mistook when you thought I laughed at you— Thomas Hardy



Definition of mistake (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a wrong judgment : misunderstanding
2 : a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from mistake


mistakenly adverb
mistaker noun

Choose the Right Synonym for mistake


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

Examples of mistake in a Sentence


the auctioneer mistook my nod for a bid, and I ended up buying a painting I don't even like you seriously mistake me if you think I scare so easily


It would be a mistake to assume that we can rely on their help. There must be some mistake. The manuscript contains numerous spelling mistakes. There's a mistake in the schedule. “When does the movie start?” “At 8:00. No, wait—my mistake—it starts at 8:30.”
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Old homes can be full of charm, but no one will mistake them for being energy efficient. Anna Bahney, CNN, "Making an old home healthier for you and the environment," 18 June 2019 No one would mistake the canine rollover for an act of fear because dogs often behave this way while approaching the other as an opening move. Frans De Waal, Discover Magazine, "Cheerful Chimps: Are Animals Really Happy When They Smile?," 31 May 2019 Samsung has kept the circular frame as well, so no one will mistake it for an Apple Watch despite a new Rose Gold color option. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Samsung Galaxy Watch has an Android name but doesn't run Google's Wear OS," 9 Aug. 2018 In the confusion, Louis de Valleville’s older brother Michel was shot by an American soldier who mistook him for a German. Ron Grossman, chicagotribune.com, "‘I’d like to volunteer, sir’: Memories of D-Day live on through oral histories," 5 June 2019 What about women who mistake spotting (a tricky sign of being pregnant) for their period? Laurel Leicht, Marie Claire, "I Was 6 Weeks Pregnant When Ohio Passed Its 6-Week Abortion Ban," 17 May 2019 There’s no mistaking the Indian logo on the gas tank, which actually isn’t a tank at all. David Curcurito, Popular Mechanics, "A Day on the New Indian FTR 1200, Then Tequila," 16 May 2019 There’s no mistaking this for a luxury vehicle — and the same goes for the driving feel. The Good Housekeeping Institute, Good Housekeeping, "The Best New Cars of 2019," 15 Apr. 2019 This was based on a tale of Wiltshire men who once mistook a reflection of the full moon for a round of cheese at the bottom of a local pond. Alan Ashe, CNN, "It's National Moonshine Day. We answer your questions," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Against Columbus, the team refused to repeat its mistake. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City grinds out 1-0 win despite stagnant night against Columbus," 14 July 2019 Well, first of all, the Pocahontas thing, and the DNA test seemed to be a huge mistake. Nr Staff, National Review, "A Series of Own Goals," 13 July 2019 What are some common mistakes people make when asking out a crush? Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Should I Ask My Crush Out?," 8 July 2019 According to Nicholl, Will and Kate decided to split in early April of 2007 and by the end of May, Will knew the breakup was a mistake and told Kate as much. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince William Begged Kate Middleton to Take Him Back After Their Biggest Breakup," 7 July 2019 Once the younger Combest showed the capability to be an even greater athlete than his father, Casey took precautionary steps to make sure his son didn't repeat his mistakes. Robert Rimpson, The Courier-Journal, "Meet King Combest, a track prodigy and son of one of Kentucky's all-time greats," 5 July 2019 The challenge for Democrats next year is to persuade swing voters that backing Donald Trump in 2016 was a mistake. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Democrats Raise Their Hands for a Second Trump Term," 2 July 2019 From their jaw-dropping venue in the south of France, to the huge wedding party, Jonas and Turner proved that throwing a second wedding is never a mistake. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Joe Jonas Had a Regal AF Balcony Moment at His Wedding to Sophie Turner," 30 June 2019 Former chief executive Bill Gates recently admitted to the failure of Windows Phone as his greatest mistake. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's rumored dual-display Surface could emulate Android apps, which isn't a bad idea," 24 June 2019

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mistake

Verb and Noun

Middle English

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mistake

Dictionary Entries near mistake








Statistics for mistake

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mistake

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for mistake



English Language Learners Definition of mistake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to understand (something or someone) incorrectly
: to make a wrong judgment about (something)
: to identify (someone or something) incorrectly



English Language Learners Definition of mistake (Entry 2 of 2)

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


mis·​take | \ mə-ˈstāk How to pronounce mistake (audio) \
mistook\ mə-​ˈstu̇k \; mistaken\ mə-​ˈstā-​kən \; mistaking

Kids Definition of mistake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : misunderstand It was easy to mistake her message.
2 : to fail to recognize correctly She mistook me for someone else.



Kids Definition of mistake (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a wrong judgment or action She was accused by mistake.
2 : something that is incorrect Correct the mistakes on your paper.



Legal Definition of mistake

1 : an unintentional error especially in legal procedure or form that does not indicate bad faith and that commonly warrants excuse or relief by the court the court's power to revise a judgment because of fraud, mistake, or irregularity a clerical mistake
2 : an erroneous belief: as
a : a state of mind that is not in accordance with the facts existing at the time a contract is made and that may be a ground for the rescission or reformation of the contract
b : a misconception at the time of an offense alleged by a defendant
mistake of fact
1 : a mistake regarding a fact or facts especially that significantly affects the performance of a contract
2 : a criminal defense that attempts to eliminate culpability on the ground that the defendant operated from an unintentional misunderstanding of fact rather than from a criminal purpose
mistake of law
: a mistake involving the misunderstanding or incorrect application of law in regard to an act, contract, transaction, determination, or state of affairs also : a criminal defense alleging such a mistake

Note: In both contract and criminal law a mistake of law is a weaker ground for relief or acquittal than a mistake of fact.

mutual mistake
: a mistake common to both parties to a contract who were in agreement about the purpose or terms of the contract reformed the contract because of a mutual mistake
unilateral mistake
: a mistake on the part of one party to a contract that is usually not a ground for rescission or reformation unless one party stands to profit or benefit improperly from the mistake

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on mistake

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


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

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

Bee Cubed

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!