Definition of errand in US English:



  • 1A short journey undertaken in order to deliver or collect something, especially on someone else's behalf.

    ‘she asked Tim to run an errand for her’
    • ‘I felt someone stalking me when I was walking home from the errand that my mom sent me on.’
    • ‘You just need to do a couple of short errands, so you don't feel it is necessary to buckle up.’
    • ‘Later that afternoon, after he'd run all his errands, Clay walked back to the boarding house.’
    • ‘I have a short errand to run, then I'll reschedule my meeting with Mark and plunge back into the fray.’
    • ‘Leave the car at home, walk for short errands or use your bike.’
    • ‘Street vendors displayed colourful wares of fruits to crowds of people out for walks or errands.’
    • ‘What does it say about me that my first errand (after walking my dog a few times and going to the grocery, of course) is getting online?’
    • ‘They acted as a kind of police force, doing errands for the king, executing his justice and collecting his taxes.’
    • ‘The quiet of Shrewsbury Abbey is shattered when Brother Oswin, sent on an errand to deliver medicines, is discovered in a nearby forest, beaten within an inch of his life.’
    • ‘However, her younger brother's tutor agreed to the errand on her behalf when he discovered that Mary had been listening to his lessons and was not totally absorbed in her stitchery.’
    • ‘In between filling out forms and running pointless errands, I struggled to keep a social life.’
    • ‘I asked other parents when they began leaving their children alone, either for a short errand or during after-school hours.’
    • ‘That implies a contract of service, a master-servant relationship - the person is carrying an errand on behalf of someone and is being directed by him or her.’
    • ‘Indeed, excluding those people who undertook air travel for its snob or novelty value, flying was only for quick errands or visits.’
    • ‘Children are expected to help carry water, collect firewood, and run errands for their mothers.’
    • ‘If the answer is yes, try to combine several errands in one trip.’
    • ‘It was the excuse that he had been using more and more lately to explain his mysterious foreign errands.’
    • ‘You run errands for a couple of people, and these errands let you be a delivery boy most of the time.’
    • ‘Bigger houses on bigger lots mean neighborhoods stretch beyond walking distance for doing errands.’
    • ‘Casey Mason was on a shopping errand on her bicycle when she was involved in an accident with a lorry at Stockbridge, Keighley.’
    task, job, chore, assignment
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The purpose or object of an errand.
      ‘she knew that if she stated her errand she would not be able to see him’
      • ‘No servants were sent down with messages or errands, and no one went up.’
      • ‘I soon go look after the errands and I will try to see if I can post before I flash out of here for Tobago tomorrow.’
      • ‘With all the errands your father sends him to fetch, it is quite easy for him to send word to me.’
      • ‘Use this forgotten vacation time to finish last-minute details and errands.’
      • ‘She called me way too early in the morning and informed me of my new errand or duty.’
      • ‘Daily errands will include providing meals, responding to calls for attention and overseeing visits by relatives.’
      • ‘Yesterday my list of errands included a stop at the store to buy DVD-Rs on sale.’
      responsibility, duty, concern, province, aim, activity, assignment, obligation, charge
      View synonyms


  • errand of mercy

    • A mission carried out to help someone in difficulty.

      • ‘No one knew their whereabouts until they had reached their destination and accomplished their purpose, whether they were on an errand of mercy or a warlike mission.’
      • ‘The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong.’
      • ‘Despite the prevailing situation, Fiwale Rural Health Centre has not relented in its errands of mercy.’
      • ‘She's probably somewhere else doing social work now,’ said one senior citizen as he settled comfortably in his chair and stretched out his legs, clearly willing to wait till Suhasini finished all her errands of mercy.’
      • ‘A DRINK-DRIVER has escaped jail for taking to the road on an errand of mercy in defiance of a driving ban.’
      • ‘The FAMILY, friends and work colleagues of a 35-year-old overseas aid worker from Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, are this week mourning his death in a bizarre tragedy while on an errand of mercy in the Central American country of Belize.’


Old English ǣrende ‘message, mission’, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German ārunti, and obscurely to Swedish ärende and Danish ærinde.