Definition of mistake in English:



  • 1An act or judgement that is misguided or wrong.

    ‘coming here was a mistake’
    ‘she made the mistake of thinking they were important’
    • ‘He warned that they should not make the mistake of believing that they could shelve their responsibility.’
    • ‘We can't make the mistake of assuming that everything is within our grasp.’
    • ‘People with great SAT scores go on to make the same stupid mistakes in their lives that we all make.’
    • ‘Samples are named, numbered and color-coded to make sure mistakes don't happen.’
    • ‘She makes the mistake of assuming that Americans can not stop eating when served a large portion.’
    • ‘It seems that South Africa is condemned to repeat fatal mistakes that should have been learned from the past.’
    • ‘To suggest that embodied chemical properties can solve systemic institutional problems is to commit a serious category mistake.’
    • ‘Sure, we made a few mistakes along the way, but everybody makes them.’
    • ‘After a while I realized the fatal mistake I had made, but I didn't cry.’
    • ‘Avoid the common mistake of falling through the poles.’
    • ‘You know, mistakes happen in journalism, as they happen in the military.’
    • ‘He performed well overall but did make the expected rookie mistakes now and then.’
    • ‘Historians sometimes make the mistake of thinking that early modern religious dissent argues secularization.’
    • ‘As soon as he said this he realized his grave mistake and quickly looked away.’
    • ‘Because if you make decisions without proper precautions, you're bound to make costly mistakes in life.’
    • ‘The simple truth is that terrible mistakes have been made.’
    • ‘The danger in Iraq is repeating the biggest mistake - yielding to gradualism.’
    • ‘She made the mistake of looking back at him, urging her to stay.’
    • ‘And it is only natural that we will make some mistakes along the way.’
    • ‘Not making mistakes goes beyond turnovers, and the Colts simply made costly mistakes at the wrong times.’
    error, fault, inaccuracy, omission, slip, blunder, miscalculation, misunderstanding, flaw, oversight, misinterpretation, fallacy, gaffe, faux pas, solecism, misapprehension, misconception, misreading
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    1. 1.1Something, especially a word, figure, or fact, which is not correct; an inaccuracy.
      ‘a couple of spelling mistakes’
      • ‘It always helps to have someone point out where you've written gibberish and pluck out the spelling mistakes.’
      • ‘I have just had a look at the lists again, and note that the same spelling mistakes are there.’
      • ‘At more relaxed times we correct the grammar mistakes of political speeches.’
      • ‘Sorry I most likely do have quite a few grammar mistakes and so on.’
      • ‘One of them scored twice as much as the other for spelling, despite having made far more spelling mistakes.’
      • ‘I don't want to see any more forgotten corners or misspelled words or mistakes!’
      • ‘Feel free to let me know about all of my spelling and grammar mistakes below.’
      • ‘He shook his head and went over to her computer, reading over what she had and correcting her mistakes.’
      • ‘Also, that there are actually very few spelling mistakes, which is in itself a telling sign.’
      • ‘Are you aware that you sometimes have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in your posts?’
      • ‘It gave the readers a chance to correct mistakes and add information.’
      • ‘The retyping explains the spelling, and also explains how a couple of spelling mistakes were introduced.’
      • ‘In closing, please ignore any spelling mistakes that may have slipped past.’
      • ‘The joined up hand-writing and lack of spelling mistakes gave the game away.’
      • ‘I would be grateful if you would correct the mistakes in your article so your readers may not be misinformed.’
      • ‘On your CV make sure everything is typographically perfect and that there are no spelling mistakes.’
      • ‘Thanks for pointing out that I had some grammar mistakes!’
      • ‘So what is proposed is that a spelling mistake is corrected.’
      • ‘And note that I corrected all the stupid spelling mistakes.’
      • ‘I'll upload the photos and correct my spelling and grammar mistakes tomorrow.’
      misprint, printing error, printing mistake, typographical error, typographical mistake, typesetting error, typesetting mistake, keyboarding error, keyboarding mistake, keying error, keying mistake, typing error, typing mistake, corrigendum, erratum
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  • 1 Be wrong about.

    ‘because I was inexperienced I mistook the nature of our relationship’
    • ‘The Tribunal mistook it, as I was directly responsible.’
    • ‘You were rude to him, and I do think you mistook his motives.’
    • ‘But to read for the lost arc is to mistake what this book is up to.’
    • ‘But he later denied the reports, saying the media mistook his remarks in a meeting with the leader.’
    • ‘Well, often wildlife observers mistake what they are seeing.’
    • ‘The marshal mistook the message, thinking the emperor wanted to sweep the whole province.’
    misunderstand, misinterpret, get wrong, put a wrong interpretation on, misconstrue, misapprehend, misread, miss, take amiss
    be wrong, be in error, be at fault, be under a misapprehension, be misinformed, be misguided, be wide of the mark, be barking up the wrong tree, get the wrong end of the stick
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    1. 1.1Wrongly identify someone or something as.
      ‘she thought he'd mistaken her for Diana’
      • ‘And consequently, this is sometimes mistaken as not eating all that I should.’
      • ‘Marine life sometimes mistake the bags for food and wind up choking to death.’
      • ‘We don't mistake it as a sign from God of an impending calamity.’
      • ‘One describes how ill he felt when he mistook a large vat of gasoline for raspberry juice, guzzling the entire thing before making the realization.’
      • ‘We'd talk for hours and I mistook this interest as genuinely concern, but then discovered she was also pregnant.’
      • ‘We didn't always know where everyone else was, and sometimes mistook one another for the enemy.’
      • ‘Nothing untoward, though one hapless guest mistook the cart path across the golf course for the exit drive.’
      • ‘I just wanted to emphasize: don't mistake your cat for a dog.’
      • ‘He apparently mistook it for one near a Jewish cemetery not far away.’
      • ‘Like the temperance movement, antiporn activism mistook a symptom of male dominance for the cause.’
      • ‘I'm still sometimes mistaken for a student, so could I be next?’
      • ‘A short woman in a baseball cap approaches me, apparently mistaking me for another snake aficionado.’
      • ‘Mind you, people are often mistaking me for someone else.’
      • ‘Schmidt apparently mistook ground fire for fire aimed at his flight leader.’
      • ‘Survivorship bias involves mistaking what you see for what is really there.’
      • ‘As I said above, people often mistake me for a 16 year old, even though I'm 25.’
      • ‘We mistook the governments of the countries for the countries themselves.’
      • ‘On the other front, Germans frequently mistook Soviet mortar barrages for aerial bombardments.’
      • ‘People often mistook it for a girl's name.’
      • ‘If I had to go inside, people would easily mistake me for Nick.’
      confuse with, mix up with, take for, misinterpret as, confound with
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  • and no mistake

    • informal Without any doubt.

      ‘it's a bad business and no mistake’
      • ‘I'll not be voting for him next month and no mistake.’
      • ‘Still, my father was a bit of a dandy in his day and no mistake.’
      • ‘Well, today's been a peculiar one, and no mistake.’
      • ‘It was a clever thing I did that day, and no mistake!’
      • ‘Gosh, that Kylie's a naughty one, and no mistake.’
      • ‘It's beautifully filmed and no mistake, but it's got one of the most dreadful scripts in recent memory…’
      • ‘With his open-neck shirt neatly tucked into belted trousers, he's old school South London and no mistake.’
      • ‘Our band of friends must cross the river to reach the object of their quest before the clocks strike midnight, else their lives will surely be over and no mistake.’
      • ‘Sprinting end to end, leaping on and off the drum riser, throwing himself at the front rows and shaking the hand of everyone who's singing along, he's a real rock god tonight and no mistake.’
      • ‘England will be going for the jugular and no mistake.’
  • by mistake

    • Accidentally; in error.

      ‘she'd left her purse at home by mistake’
      • ‘Unconfirmed reports last night suggested the double safety doors at the top and bottom of the tunnel were left open by mistake.’
      • ‘I have taped up the door so I don't forget and go in there by mistake.’
      • ‘In other words, I accidentally clicked on it by mistake while pasting it in, before getting up to grab a book from a shelf.’
      • ‘Going home from work in Oxford last night I accidentally got on the Bristol train by mistake.’
      • ‘I thought he was a local drunk who had wondered into the group by mistake, until I realised he was handing out leaflets.’
      • ‘I think my parents left the hospital with the wrong baby by mistake.’
      • ‘I left my stylus at the club by mistake, so I'll get the manager to drive around to your place and give it to you.’
      • ‘Apparently the parcel wasn't for us, it was for a completely different house and he put the note through our door by mistake.’
      • ‘Officials in Australia admit the passports were returned by mistake.’
      • ‘Those are the banned substances most frequently taken by mistake by players.’
      by accident, accidentally, inadvertently, unintentionally, unwittingly, unknowingly, unconsciously, by mistake, by chance, misguidedly
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  • make no mistake (about it)

    • informal Do not be deceived into thinking otherwise.

      ‘he's passionate about football, make no mistake’
      • ‘And make no mistake about it: They knew what they were doing.’
      • ‘This is a serious football team and make no mistake about that!’
      • ‘And make no mistake about it, recruiting is tough duty.’
      • ‘Because if we have to adopt such tactics it can only have a negative effect on our own team preparation, and make no mistake about it, we have forwards that will also want the full width of this superb stadium.’
      • ‘Let's make no mistake about it - part of the ant-globalisation movement is resentment towards the United States, the world's hyper-power.’
      • ‘Second, of course, is the fact that - make no mistake about it and we certainly don't attempt to skirt the issue whatsoever - we are engaged in war.’
      • ‘And they can be lethal, make no mistake about it.’
      • ‘And make no mistake about it, this nation is sad.’
      • ‘But make no mistake about it, we support Israel.’
      • ‘But make no mistake about it, she's a world figure.’
  • there is no mistaking ——

    • It is impossible not to recognize someone or something.

      ‘there's no mistaking that voice’
      ‘there was no mistaking her sincerity’
      • ‘But there is no mistaking her academic prowess now.’
      • ‘At first glance, there is no mistaking the scenes are from some of the most famous movies in history.’
      • ‘Quaint, and sort of touristy as it may be, there is no mistaking it for anything but a railroad town.’
      • ‘But whatever the detail, there is no mistaking the fact that vodka is booze - hard liquor, as the Americans like to call it - that you drink for the effect rather than the taste.’
      • ‘For a manager charged with taking his team to the knockout stages of the Champions League, there is no mistaking the modesty of his resources, although there are those who would question his use of them.’
      • ‘They are few and small, only two inches in diameter, but there is no mistaking them.’
      • ‘I have never heard my grandfather's herald voice before, but there is no mistaking it.’
      • ‘The girls are not identical, but there is no mistaking them for twins with their similar frames and blonde hair.’
      • ‘But, as she reads the Braille inscription on it there is no mistaking her pride.’
      • ‘It may be that he finds himself relying on his two most physical strikers, but there is no mistaking his desire to field a more creative talent.’


Late Middle English (as a verb): from Old Norse mistaka take in error, probably influenced in sense by Old French mesprendre.