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

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

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.” See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Health officials say the chance of a false positive with a PCR test is extremely low, and the test cannot mistake COVID-19 for influenza. Mckenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY, 14 Jan. 2022 But despite occasional pieces referencing the filmmaker’s Catholic boyhood, no one would ever mistake Waters for a choir boy. Mary Carole Mccauley, Baltimore Sun, 7 Apr. 2022 Checking out the mountain With a 750-foot vertical drop, no one would mistake Seven Springs for a major resort out West or East. Susan Glaser, cleveland, 3 Feb. 2022 When legislation gets hung up on procedures like the filibuster, Americans often mistake the inability to act on the president. Julian Zelizer, CNN, 21 Jan. 2022 However, home shoppers should not mistake this latest slowdown as price relief. Fortune, 4 Jan. 2022 This could mean the organisms ingest larger clusters of particles or, possibly, that the species might mistake a clump for a bit of food more often. Doug Johnson, Ars Technica, 7 Mar. 2022 Don’t mistake greasiness for a lack of precision; every groove and texture on the album is arranged just so. Los Angeles Times, 25 Feb. 2022 Your eyes will need practice, but even Laidre, who has been on more than 40 Greenland expeditions, can still mistake an iceberg lump for a bear. Malia Wollan, New York Times, 15 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But time and wear have made the mistake, well, unmistakable. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, 12 May 2022 And when Alvaro Barreal was awarded a penalty kick around the 54th minute, Luciano Acosta took the kick and made no mistake. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 5 May 2022 David Weinstein, a former federal and state prosecutor in Florida, told ABC News on Thursday that Scherer made a mistake by asking the question. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, 28 Apr. 2022 The laptop was eventually confirmed to be Biden’s, and then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologized, saying Twitter made a mistake. Scott Nover, Quartz, 27 Apr. 2022 There has been considerable backlash among traditional Trump allies after the pick, including a number of officials in Pennsylvania GOP circles who have said Trump made a mistake. Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2022 The Legislature made a big mistake in passing HB 11, said Will Terry, programs coordinator at Equality Utah. Connor Sanders, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Apr. 2022 One out away from a scoreless sixth, however, Buehler made a mistake. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr. 2022 And last year one of his stores was put on a payment reserve for 90 days because their copyright system made a mistake. Nicole Fallert, USA TODAY, 11 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About mistake

Time Traveler for mistake

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for mistake

Last Updated

5 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Mistake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mistake. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for mistake


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

More from Merriam-Webster on mistake

Nglish: Translation of mistake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mistake for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mistake


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