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err Syllabification: err
Pronunciation: /er/

Definition of err in English:


[no object] formal
1Be mistaken or incorrect; make a mistake: the judge had erred in ruling that the evidence was inadmissible
More example sentences
  • He has done a good job as far as trying to protect us, but we think he erred in these areas, and we feel we can do better, because our strengths are what they are.
  • The army denied the curfew was lifted, but said an initial inquiry ‘indicates that the force erred in its action’.
  • I may have erred in posting anything here about this sad dispute.
offending, guilty, culpable, misbehaving, errant, delinquent, lawbreaking, aberrant, deviant
1.1 (often as adjective erring) Sin; do wrong: the erring brother who had wrecked his life
More example sentences
  • Traffic officers as a matter of routine, get ‘oiled’ by erring motorists for turning a blind eye to defective, unroadworthy or overloaded vehicles, sometimes with fatal consequences.
  • A hotline number has been made available to report corruption and erring officials will be suspended on the spot.
  • Some other police forces have run schemes where residents have been given the opportunity to speak to erring drivers and point out how their speed or manner of driving could put members of the community at risk.


Middle English (in the sense 'wander, go astray'): from Old French errer, from Latin errare 'to stray'.

  • Like error (Middle English) and erratic (Late Middle English), err comes to us from Latin errare, which meant ‘to stray, wander’ but could also mean ‘to make a mistake’. The idea of straying or going off the correct course is still found in erratic, and also in the old term knight errant (Middle English), so called because they wandered far and wide in search of adventure. Arrant is a Middle English variant of errant, and aberrant (mid 16th century) is literally a ‘wandering away’ from the right path. The proverb to err is human, to forgive, divine is so old that it is found in Latin (humanum est errare, ‘it is human to err’), and also in the 14th-century work of Geoffrey Chaucer: ‘The proverb says that to sin is human, but to carry on sinning is the devil's work.’ The precise wording that we are familiar with comes from An Essay on Criticism ( 1711) by the poet Alexander Pope.


Traditionally, errrhymes with her, although the pronunciation that rhymes with hair is now common.


err on the right side

Act so that the least harmful of possible mistakes or errors in is the most likely to occur.
Example sentences
  • He said a few people in the town felt the Government probably erred on the right side, but the majority were disappointed.
  • The star rarely eats in, but when she does, she errs on the right side of healthy
  • The film's magical, mythic undertones are combined with a gritty, sparse realism that means things always err on the right side of sentiment.

err on the side of

Display more rather than less of (a specified quality) in one’s actions: it is better to err on the side of caution
More example sentences
  • Women should err on the side of too little rather than too much.
  • You want to err on the side of too little water rather than too much.
  • Within reason, it may be best to err on the side of too many, rather than too few, participants.

to err is human, to forgive divine

proverb It is human nature to make mistakes oneself while finding it hard to forgive others.
Example sentences
  • Maybe we need to look to religion for guidance in such matters, after all, to err is human, to forgive divine.
  • ‘Holcombe came to me and said, ‘Hey, Ed, I'm not condoning what you fellows did, but I believe that to err is human, to forgive divine.’
  • "To err is human, to forgive divine, as the old saying goes," Bucknor said.

Words that rhyme with err

à deux, agent provocateur, astir, auteur, aver, bestir, blur, bon viveur, burr, Chandigarh, coiffeur, concur, confer, connoisseur, cordon-bleu, cri de cœur, cur, danseur, Darfur, defer, demur, de rigueur, deter, entrepreneur, er, farceur, faute de mieux, fir, flâneur, Fleur, force majeure, fur, hauteur, her, infer, inter, jongleur, Kerr, littérateur, longueur, masseur, Monseigneur, monsieur, Montesquieu, Montreux, murre, myrrh, occur, pas de deux, Pasteur, per, pisteur, poseur, pot-au-feu, prefer, prie-dieu, pudeur, purr, raconteur, rapporteur, refer, répétiteur, restaurateur, saboteur, sabreur, seigneur, Sher, shirr, sir, skirr, slur, souteneur, spur, stir, tant mieux, transfer, Ur, vieux jeu, voyageur, voyeur, were, whirr

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