mistake

1 of 2

verb

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

transitive verb

1
: to blunder in the choice of
mistook her way in the dark
2
a
: 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
mistakenly adverb
mistaker noun

mistake

2 of 2

noun

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

Example Sentences

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
Just make sure the kids don’t mistake it for the cookie jar. Bon Appétit, 15 Nov. 2022 Don't mistake Burt's Bees Honey and Grapeseed Oil Hand Cream as only being good for your hands — the emollient-rich formula can also be used to salvage rough patches on your elbows, knees, and heels. Michelle Rostamian, Allure, 9 Nov. 2022 Of course, no one will ever mistake John and his band for Phish or the latest iteration of the Grateful Dead. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Nov. 2022 So as not to mistake this classic casserole for a dessert, instead of sugar use apples, honey and orange juice, which also offer a floral tang to offset the natural sweetness of the spuds. Ben Mimscooking Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 9 Nov. 2022 When massive sunfish swim or float near the ocean’s surface, people often mistake them for sharks. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Oct. 2022 No one would mistake Iowa for an explosive team, and defense has long been the name of the game in Iowa City. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 10 Sep. 2022 High’s field and coaches would mistake Hill for senior Adetomiwa Adebawore, a 6-foot-2, 280-pounder currently at Northwestern. Nick Alvarez | Nalvarez@al.com, al, 22 Aug. 2022 Children who mistake this Pokémon for a balloon and hold its hand have been known to vanish. Jhaan Elker, Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2022
Noun
Even with the uncertainty surrounding unregulated sellers, Paula Collins, a lawyer who represents smoke shop and convenience store owners who sell cannabis, said that closing them down would be a mistake. Ashley Southall, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2022 The original amount was quickly determined to be a mistake. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 23 Nov. 2022 Blackout Wednesday is approaching and the American Automobile Association (AAA) has a way for drivers to not make a big mistake on one of the biggest bar nights of the year. Chandra Fleming, Detroit Free Press, 22 Nov. 2022 The New Zealand government eventually offered a formal apology to the people of Rūātoki, saying the whole episode was a mistake. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Nov. 2022 Keep an eye out for Leatherwood — failing to evaluate him this season would be a mistake. Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune, 21 Nov. 2022 Merrick Garland’s decision Friday to appoint a special counsel in the criminal investigations of Donald Trump is almost certainly a mistake, as such appointments usually are. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 18 Nov. 2022 People frequently store their fragrance on the counter along with their other grooming essentials, but this is a big mistake. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Nov. 2022 Herbert, making his 37th straight start, played well enough Sunday by never letting the game never rush him into a big mistake. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Oct. 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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Middle English

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near mistake

Cite this Entry

“Mistake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mistake. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

mistake 1 of 2

verb

mis·​take mə-ˈstāk How to pronounce mistake (audio)
mistook -ˈstu̇k How to pronounce mistake (audio) ; mistaken -ˈstā-kən How to pronounce mistake (audio) ; mistaking
1
: to understand wrongly : misinterpret
mistook my meaning
2
: to estimate incorrectly
mistook the strength of the enemy
3
: to identify wrongly
mistook me for her
mistakenly adverb

mistake

2 of 2

noun

1
: a wrong judgment : misunderstanding
2
: a wrong action or statement

Legal Definition

mistake

noun

mis·​take
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
: a mistake regarding a fact or facts especially that significantly affects the performance of a contract
: 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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