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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'll even shout out when I believe the company has erred in its judgement.’
    • ‘Firstly, Watson claimed that rival Jones had erred in linking the illness to Thompson's form slump.’
    • ‘Again Riley appeared to have erred in giving the free kick the other way.’
    • ‘I stand by most of my articles (as a writer should) but am not afraid to admit when I have erred in judgement.’
    • ‘The Supreme Court ruled last December that the Surrey School Board erred in disallowing the books in the classroom.’
    • ‘We say, in this case, that there are three reasons why this Court should find that the Court of Criminal Appeal erred in the exercise of its function.’
    • ‘He erred in discussing details of the case publicly, and in ringing one of the parties to the case to press her to give up her court defence and return a child to his parents.’
    • ‘The accused appealed on the ground, inter alia, that the trial court erred in refusing the application.’
    • ‘In that case, the physicians argued that the trial judge had erred in preferring one responsible body of professional opinion to another.’
    • ‘Yorkshire had an unexpectedly good day after it had appeared that Byas had erred in asking Kent to bat first on a fairly docile pitch.’
    • ‘He also claims that he was told by Board officers he had erred in a previous report also, but on request, he was denied sight of a copy of that report.’
    • ‘Krugman's main thrust was that the Bank of Japan erred in raising interest rates here in August.’
    • ‘We erred in saying that he was being paid and the lad fired off an email saying ‘the matter was now in the hands of my lawyers’.’
    • ‘I believe that the Government has erred in not making those adjustments, which would have meant tax reductions for all taxpayers.’
    • ‘Nor did they suggest that O'Neill had erred in this selection when they subsequently appeared as ineffectual substitutes.’
    • ‘I may have erred in posting anything here about this sad dispute.’
    • ‘The army denied the curfew was lifted, but said an initial inquiry ‘indicates that the force erred in its action’.’
    • ‘I think that as a field, psychology has erred in both ignoring food choice, and in studying food intake in nonoptimal ways.’
    • ‘I actually think the Court erred in this, but this is now the law, and should block Omaha from doing what it's doing.’
    offending, guilty, culpable, misbehaving, delinquent, lawless, lawbreaking, criminal, transgressing, aberrant, deviant, errant, sinning
    make a mistake, be wrong, be in error, be mistaken, mistake, make a blunder, blunder, be incorrect, be inaccurate, misjudge, miscalculate, get it wrong, get something wrong, get things wrong, bark up the wrong tree, get the wrong end of the stick, be wide of the mark
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1often as adjective erring Sin; do wrong.
      ‘the erring brother who had wrecked his life’
      • ‘Chocolate cake can be dry and this one was certainly erring that way.’
      • ‘A hotline number has been made available to report corruption and erring officials will be suspended on the spot.’
      • ‘Committed journalists teaming up with activists have exposed erring doctors, only to find that the police are not permitted to take action.’
      • ‘This should prompt the board to wake up from its slumber and initiate legal action against erring industries and strictly enforce the existing laws.’
      • ‘Disciplinary action has to be taken by the Government against erring officials.’
      • ‘The traffic police have been given instructions to crack down on erring motorists.’
      • ‘The refresher course was more a corrective system to erring professional drivers.’
      • ‘They erred by seeking the wrong righteousness, not by the act of seeking.’
      • ‘The penalty for erring drivers should be increased substantially.’
      • ‘The thing is I left last season well satisfied, as always, but feeling that the Exchange has been erring a little too much on the side of costume drama.’
      • ‘It will have the power to initiate legal proceedings against erring officials and police personnel, for which their service rules will be suitably amended.’
      • ‘Insurance companies can charge higher premiums from erring drivers.’
      • ‘An official assured that the issues of illegal towing of the vehicles by the traffic constables will be looked into and action will be taken against erring officials.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘More consumer courts need to be set up so that consumer grievances are addressed and erring multinationals are brought to book.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is the week when the police need to remind erring journalists that the pen might be mightier than the sword, but a lathi can break the pen and the hand that holds it.’
      • ‘Court orders should be treated with all seriousness and sanctity and courts should not let erring officials go unpunished.’
      • ‘This is so evident from the faulty officiating in games down to the determination of penalties and punishment given to erring players.’
      • ‘Our Chief Minister must initiate bold disciplinary measures against erring individuals.’
      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
      View synonyms


  • err on the right side

    • formal 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’
      • ‘He said a few people in the town felt the Government probably erred on the right side, but the majority were disappointed.’
      • ‘The film's magical, mythic undertones are combined with a gritty, sparse realism that means things always err on the right side of sentiment.’
      • ‘His playing is assured, his lyrics err just on the right side of ‘sensitive’ and his voice is an emotive tool.’
      • ‘The star rarely eats in, but when she does, she errs on the right side of healthy’
      • ‘I think I shall err on the right side in attaching even greater weight than he.’
  • err on the side of

    • formal Display more rather than less of (a specified quality) in one's actions.

      ‘it is better to err on the side of caution’
      • ‘None too soon, in my opinion, but the Administration is understandably erring on the side of completeness and accuracy rather than releasing information piecemeal.’
      • ‘Don't get me wrong, I understand the principle: We should err on the side of protecting the innocent rather than punishing the guilty.’
      • ‘When refueling with water, it is better to err on the side of too much rather than too little.’
      • ‘Even if the display erred on the side of parsimony, the gleaming expanse of wooden flooring and the glittering space above seemed to invite one in to marvel.’
      • ‘Women should err on the side of too little rather than too much.’
      • ‘With around 400 recipes crammed into its pages, it errs on the side of an encyclopaedia rather than an eyeful.’
      • ‘You want to err on the side of too little water rather than too much.’
      • ‘I think the media should always err on the side of revealing rather than concealing.’
      • ‘I believe that I made mistakes, but I also believe that I always tried to do the right thing and that I erred on the side of people rather than the law.’
      • ‘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.

      • ‘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.’


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