Definition of wrong in English:

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Pronunciation: /rɒŋ/


1Not correct or true; incorrect: that is the wrong answer
More example sentences
  • The experimenter records whether that answer was correct or wrong.
  • If the answer is wrong, the computer says the same and gives the correct answer.
  • Instead of correcting the wrong bits I should have just thrown the whole analogy back at him.
incorrect, mistaken, in error, erroneous, inaccurate, not accurate, inexact, not exact, imprecise, invalid, untrue, false, fallacious, wide of the mark, off target;
misleading, illogical, unsound, unfounded, without foundation, faulty, flawed
informal off beam, bogus, phoney, out, way out, full of holes, dicey, iffy
British informal dodgy
archaic abroad
1.1 [predicative] Having judged incorrectly; mistaken: I was wrong about him being on the yacht that evening
More example sentences
  • On this appeal the Claimant contends that the Judge was wrong and should not in any event have decided the point summarily.
  • Daunting as it nonetheless was, I was quite wrong to be so awed.
  • Can all of those people in the audience be wrong and those few judges be right?
1.2Unsuitable or undesirable: the doctor may regard the patient’s decision as wrong
More example sentences
  • Shifting his imposing frame, his expression takes on a thunderous aspect, suggesting this is the wrong question to ask.
  • Perhaps we have, like Alice, simply been asking the wrong question.
  • A shadow seemed to pass over her face, and now it seemed that I had asked the wrong question.
inappropriate, unsuitable, inapt, inapposite, undesirable;
ill-advised, ill-considered, ill-judged, impolitic, injudicious, infelicitous, unacceptable, beyond the pale, unwarranted, unfitting, out of keeping, improper, unseemly, unbecoming, indecorous, lacking in propriety
informal out of order
1.3 [predicative] In a bad or abnormal condition; amiss: something was wrong with the pump
More example sentences
  • Doctors were unable to find out exactly what was wrong with Chloe and her condition remains undiagnosed.
  • Dairy products were blamed for virtually everything medically wrong with the younger generation.
  • She's seen innumerable specialists, all of whom have been baffled as to what could be wrong with her and then passing her on to someone else.
amiss, awry, out of order, not right, faulty, defective, unsatisfactory, incorrect, inappropriate
2Unjust, dishonest, or immoral: that was wrong of me [with infinitive]: they were wrong to take the law into their own hands
More example sentences
  • If it's wrong to extol virtue, it should be wrong to condemn a vice like hypocrisy.
  • It is wrong to make it illegal to lower the cost of tax and lower the cost to seniors.
  • Mr. Kelly added that it would be wrong to condemn the lack of a parade and then do nothing about it.
illegal, against the law, unlawful, illicit, indictable, lawless, lawbreaking, criminal, delinquent, felonious, dishonest, dishonourable, corrupt;
unethical, immoral, morally wrong, bad, wicked, base, evil, sinful, foul, despicable, iniquitous, nefarious, blameworthy, condemnable, culpable
informal crooked, shady
British informal bent, not cricket


1In an unsuitable or undesirable manner or direction: what am I doing wrong?
More example sentences
  • The 757 was intended to replace the 727, but for some reason Boeing got its market research wrong.
  • Nothing like this has ever happened to her, she just doesn't understand what she did wrong and why somebody would want to hurt her.
  • They're nasty and confusing and I'm obsessed that if I fill them in wrong they'll put me in prison or something.
1.1With an incorrect result: she guessed wrong
More example sentences
  • We guessed wrong both times, but that's the way it is sometimes.
  • If you guess right you will appear to be a genius, if you guess wrong you will look foolish.
  • ChoicePoint got his middle name wrong and reported that there was a bench warrant for his arrest in Arizona.
incorrectly, wrongly, inaccurately, erroneously, mistakenly;
inexactly, imprecisely, falsely


An unjust, dishonest, or immoral act: I have done you a great wrong [mass noun]: I was trying to teach my children right from wrong
More example sentences
  • And there will be, inevitably, and quite immorally, an attempt to obscure the historical wrongs and the injustices that lie behind the firestorms.
  • Both wrongs also constituted a criminal offence.
  • I cannot see how it is possible to right the wrong of murder or another crime with killing someone.
misdeed, bad deed, bad act/action, offence, injury, crime, unlawful act, illegal act, violation, infringement, infraction, transgression, peccadillo, sin;
injustice, unfairness, unjust act, grievance, outrage, atrocity;
Law  malfeasance, tort
archaic trespass
rare malefaction


[with object]
1Act unjustly or dishonestly towards: they would kill a man who wronged a family
More example sentences
  • Jules was capable of getting very aggressive towards people who wronged her and the people close to her.
  • If a citizen is wronged by any party, he or she can count on it that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights will protect him and justice will prevail.
  • They act with anger towards those who they feel have wronged them.
1.1Mistakenly attribute bad motives to; misrepresent: perhaps I wrong him
More example sentences
  • Typically, people who feel wronged by the media sue for libel.
  • Because this is a novel, Glass can sketch nasty portraits of those close to him, all the while explaining how sorry he is that he wronged them.
  • Efforts are being made to allow ordinary citizens a more prompt and accessible redress where they feel they were wronged in a newspaper report.
malign, misrepresent, do a disservice to, do an injustice to, dishonour, impugn, vilify, defame, slander, libel, denigrate, insult;
mistreat, do wrong to, abuse, maltreat, ill-treat, ill-use, harm, hurt, injure, do injury to, offend against, oppress
informal bad mouth, kick in the teeth, do the dirty on



do wrong

Commit an unjust, dishonest, or immoral act: they admit she has done wrong, but believe the punishment is too harsh
More example sentences
  • We try to do good and we end up doing wrong.
  • The only real epiphany in the movie is the realization that we know right from wrong, and choose to do wrong anyway.
  • If it is true that we cannot do wrong without suffering wrong, we must brace for more grief to come.

do someone wrong

Treat someone unjustly: he sought revenge against those who had done him wrong
More example sentences
  • Bombarded with stories about unscrupulous corporate executives and the employees they done wrong, workers begin to gaze warily at their own managers.
  • Forget tearjerkers and 'He done me wrong' flicks.
  • He hasn't done me wrong so far.

fall (or get) into the wrong hands

(Of information or an object) be stolen, or be found by an unfriendly person: this is a private letter that fell into the wrong hands
More example sentences
  • There is no tracking mechanism to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands.
  • The survey is being used to spearhead a national campaign for tougher legislation to prevent weapons falling into the wrong hands.
  • However, he said there is some concern the explosives could have fallen into the wrong hands.

get someone wrong

Misunderstand someone, especially by falsely ascribing malice to them: now, don’t get me wrong, my fellow players are a great bunch of people
More example sentences
  • Don't get us wrong: we are happy to do the vaccinations, but we must be resourced.
  • Don't get us wrong - Phoenix Nights was funny while it lasted.
  • Don't get us wrong, some of our best friends are engineers but a transit system is more than a collection of vehicles and schedules.

get (hold of) the wrong end of the stick

British Misunderstand something.
Example sentences
  • I'm sorry to say that Leo Lewis got the wrong end of the stick in another respect, with major potential for cross-cultural misunderstanding.
  • ‘The teenagers were play fighting with each other, and it appears my client got the wrong end of the stick and became involved when he should not have,’ he said.
  • The game was probably the most sensitive treatment and realistic treatment of battle displayed in a video game at that point, so obviously, the media got the wrong end of the stick.

go down the wrong way

informal (Of food) enter the windpipe instead of the gullet.
Example sentences
  • She said: ‘He said he had difficulty swallowing with the stroke and he said it was a bit of food that has gone down the wrong way.’
  • He said he thought the problem had been a bit of food going down the wrong way.
  • Feeding tubes are usually put in when a person can't swallow and will starve without assistance, and/or risk what's called aspiration pneumonia, which is when food goes down the wrong way and hits the lungs.

go wrong

Make a mistake.
Example sentences
  • The big area where I personally went wrong was in estimating GDP growth.
  • But in the meantime education and information initiatives would be introduced to let people know where they were going wrong.
  • I don't know where I've gone wrong.
7.1(Of a device) malfunction; develop a fault.
Example sentences
  • It is equally easy to determine what went wrong with that machine.
  • However, little things in the computer are starting to go wrong now.
  • It's the washing machine that's gone wrong.
7.2Develop in an undesirable way: whenever things went wrong she would blame us
More example sentences
  • He must be tearing his hair out right now because the team are going through one of those spells where everything that can go wrong, is going wrong.
  • If things are going wrong, we need to know that they are going wrong, so we can put them right.
  • She had a great turn of phrase and sense of humour and could see the funny side even when things went wrong.
go awry, go amiss, go adrift, go off course, fail, not succeed, be unsuccessful, go badly, be ruined, fall through, fall flat, fall apart, come apart at the seams, break down, come to nothing, flounder, collapse, meet with disaster, backfire, rebound, boomerang, misfire, miscarry, abort
informal come to grief, flop, come a cropper, go haywire, bite the dust, go up in smoke

in the wrong

Responsible for a quarrel, mistake, or offence: who was in the wrong?
More example sentences
  • When I have tried to point out the cycle track I have been verbally abused even though they are in the wrong.
  • Few would object to paying a fine if in the wrong, but when people have paid and paid again, it becomes a violation.
  • So in his world, it will be me that is in the wrong for swearing at him.
mistaken, in error, erring, errant, off course, off target, wide of the mark
informal off beam
to blame, blameworthy, at fault, condemnable, censurable, reproachable, reprehensible, responsible, culpable, answerable, guilty
archaic peccant

on the wrong side of

1Out of favour with: she knew not to get on the wrong side of him
More example sentences
  • She picked the wrong person to get on the wrong side of.
  • This, after all, as Gerald Kaufman said, is a man ‘whom it is advisable not to get on the wrong side of.’
  • If I give an opinion, I'm going to get on the wrong side of either one of you.
2Somewhat more than (a specified age): he cheerfully admits he is the wrong side of fifty
More example sentences
  • Embarking on a sea change in career is not something to be taken lightly, especially when you are on the wrong side of 40.
  • Unable to have any hot food or drink and as we are on the wrong side of 60, we were lucky to come out of it without becoming ill.
  • For many of the players - those on the wrong side of 30 - this tournament is their last chance, after famous failures in 1995 and 1999.

the wrong way round

In the opposite of the normal or desirable orientation, direction, or sequence: the batteries were in the wrong way round
More example sentences
  • This sort of proposition has the causal sequence the wrong way round.
  • I decided not to mention that the battery had obviously been the wrong way round for some time, because I was worried that I then wouldn't be able to stop myself enquiring how she had managed to listen to any music in the first place.
  • The problem is that we have things the wrong way round, and that leads directly to the obesity epidemic.

two wrongs don't make a right

proverb The fact that someone has done something unjust or dishonest is no justification for acting in a similar way.
Example sentences
  • The answers generally fell into two categories: The end justifies the means or two wrongs don't make a right.
  • ‘What one forgets is that these prisoners have been victims too, and two wrongs don't make a right,’ Mr Ellis said.
  • There are other takeaways causing problems, but two wrongs don't make a right.



Example sentences
  • He's a wronger alright.
  • In this case, the wrongers are a bunch of young city slickers weekending in a small southern mountain town where they can practice their dirtbiking and boozing.


Pronunciation: /ˈrɒŋnəs/
Example sentences
  • Against what standard is this wrongness measured?
  • There's just a wrongness about him that makes my skin crawl.
  • Need I elaborate on the wrongness of this interpretation?


Late Old English wrang, from Old Norse rangr 'awry, unjust'; related to wring.

  • An Old English word from Old Norse rangr ‘awry, unjust’, which first meant ‘crooked, curved, or twisted’ and is related to wring (Old English). Until the 17th century the wr- would have been pronounced, and there was obviously something about the sound that suggested the idea of twisting—many English words beginning with wr-, such as wrist, writhe, and wreathe (all OE), contain the notion. Although to get the wrong end of the stick now means ‘to misunderstand something’, the original sense seems to have been ‘to come off worse’. The example in The Swell's Night Guide, a guide to London low life published in 1846, gives an idea of what was wrong with the ‘wrong end’: ‘Which of us had hold of the crappy…end of the stick?’ The proverb two wrongs don't make a right dates from the late 18th century. The Hungarian-born psychiatrist Thomas Szasz summed up the feelings of many when he said in 1973: ‘Two wrongs don't make a right, but they make a good excuse.’

Words that rhyme with wrong

along, belong, bong, chaise longue, Geelong, gong, Guangdong, Haiphong, Heilong, Hong Kong, Jong, King Kong, long, mah-jong, Mao Zedong, Mekong, nong, pong, prolong, sarong, Shillong, song, souchong, strong, thong, throng, tong, Vietcong

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: wrong

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