mistake

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

mistake

noun

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

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Other Words from mistake

Verb

mistakenly adverb
mistaker noun

Choose the Right Synonym for mistake

Noun

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

Verb

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

Noun

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.”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Soon after Germany surrendered, he was arrested by the British, who mistook him for a someone with the same last name who had been a member of the Nazi SS forces. Richard Goldstein, New York Times, "Reinhard Hardegen, Who Led U-Boats to America’s Shore, Dies at 105," 17 June 2018 Firm diverted a sliver of its revenue to help small businesses Beneficiaries flock to D.C. for hundreds of lawmaker meetings No one would mistake them for typical Goldman Sachs clients. Dakin Campbell, Bloomberg.com, "Goldman Has a $500 Million Army of Little Guys to Buff Its Image," 22 Feb. 2018 The first show in this new division, Endless Summer — not to be mistaken with The Endless Summer, the famous 1966 surfing documentary — sounds like a refresh of MTV's Laguna Beach made for the social media era. Madeline Buxton, refinery29.com, "Step Aside, Bachelors: Snapchat Is Taking A Stab At Reality Shows," 19 June 2018 If the exercise had taken place during a military crisis between Russia and NATO, Norway could have mistaken it for a genuine attack. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Nearly a Dozen Russian Jets Practiced an Attack on a Norwegian Radar Base," 13 Feb. 2019 There’s a certain arrogance to the some of the business talk, [which is] also [often] mistaken as kind of plain-talking. Vogue, "Watch an Exclusive Clip of Halston Before Its Sundance Premiere—And Read What the Director and Producer Say About Its Making," 23 Jan. 2019 Animals can mistake small, often colorful microplastics for food. Jack Fisher, The Seattle Times, "Group screens and cleans sand near Oregon’s Haystack Rock," 20 Aug. 2018 Front offices mistook a fluke for a trend and promptly spent like crazy. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "NBA Free Agency: The Thought Behind the One-Year Deal Trend," 12 July 2018 Last week a guest mistook our driveway for the hotel and got stuck on our lawn. Karen Berkowitz, chicagotribune.com, "Highland Park mansion's use of Airbnb spurs neighbor lawsuit: 'We have to clean up empty beer cans'," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

People can create a headline or an opinion about someone based on a small moment or a mistake. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid Tears Up While Discussing How She's Dealt with Fame," 3 Apr. 2019 One small mistake could send the metal lattice falling. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "A Friendship Turned to Rivalry. A Feud That Changed the New York Skyline.," 27 Mar. 2019 Trust us: good hair days are guaranteed to follow after considering these common mistakes and then solving them with our experts' smart solutions on how to get rid of greasy hair. Sam Escobar, Good Housekeeping, "9 Mistakes That Are Making Your Hair Look Greasy," 25 Mar. 2019 But even with his record-breaking coaching statistics, Blake still makes mistakes from time to time. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'The Voice' Caught Blake Shelton Admitting a Major Blunder to Kelly Clarkson on Air," 9 Mar. 2019 Set in the '60s, the movie is about two drug-addled actors who go on vacation by mistake. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Richard E. Grant's Oscar Nomination Is Long Overdue," 24 Feb. 2019 Unfortunately, a case from Germany has highlighted the potential pitfalls involved with using such a product, when Amazon accidentally sent a man 1,700 Alexa voice recordings of another user by mistake, according to German magazine c’t. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Amazon sent 1,700 Alexa voice recordings to the wrong user following data request," 20 Dec. 2018 There are many fans who believe a much simpler explanation for the mass misunderstanding: -stein is a much more common suffix in names than -stain, so people simply remembered the series having the more common spelling by mistake. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "This Crazy Conspiracy Theory About "The Berenstein Bears" Will Blow Your Mind," 1 Nov. 2018 Feinstein’s bill — probably by mistake — would have prevented parents from being arrested for serious crimes by the FBI, not just from getting separated at the border. Dara Lind, Vox, "Anatomy of a lie: where Trump’s fictitious “Open Borders Bill” comes from," 8 Oct. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of mistake

Verb

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

Noun

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mistake

Verb and Noun

Middle English

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Learn More about mistake

Dictionary Entries near mistake

missy

mist

mistakable

mistake

mistakingly

mistal

Mistassini

Statistics for mistake

Last Updated

9 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mistake

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

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More Definitions for mistake

mistake

verb

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

mistake

noun

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

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

mistake

verb
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.

mistake

noun

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.

mistake

noun
mis·​take

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

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Comments on mistake

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