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Line breaks: err
Pronunciation: /əː

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.
make a mistake, be wrong, be in error, be mistaken, mistake, make a blunder, blunder, be incorrect, be inaccurate, misjudge, miscalculate, get things/something/it wrong, bark up the wrong tree, get the wrong end of the stick, be wide of the mark
informal slip up, screw up, blow it, foul up, goof, boob, fluff something, make a hash of something, put one's foot in it, make a boo-boo, make a bloomer, drop a brick
vulgar slang fuck something up, bugger something up
1.1 (often as adjective erring) Sin; do wrong: he had been as solicitous as an erring husband
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.
misbehave, do wrong, go wrong, behave badly, misconduct oneself, be bad, be naughty, get up to mischief, get up to no good, act up, act badly, give someone trouble, cause someone trouble;
sin, go astray, transgress, trespass, fall from grace, lapse, degenerate;
clown about/around, fool about/around, act the clown, act the fool, act the goat, act foolishly, forget oneself
informal mess about/around
British informal muck about/around, play up


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


err on the right side

Act so that the least harmful of possible mistakes or errors is the most likely to occur: last year’s boom was the result of a miscalculation, which erred on the right side
More 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.

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