Difference Between Error and Mistake

Error vs Mistake

Since error and mistake are two very frequently used words and people often use them interchangeably, though they have slightly different meanings, it is important to know the difference between error and mistake. Both terms refer to something done incorrectly due to personal misjudgment or inattention, but they are used in different situations, to be more fitting. The word error is only used as a noun in sentences. Mistake, on the other hand, is used as a noun and a verb. As a verb, it is an irregular verb. Error is also used in the sense of mistake. Therefore, it is interesting to find out the difference between error and mistake.

What is an Error?

Error can be defined as an act that had been performed as a result of bad judgment. It is a deviation from accuracy or correctness or can even be defined as the holding of mistaken opinions. This word is used in formal situations and is mostly used in written language. Error is a term that is often used with regard to computing and programming problems since it is more technical than casual.

Look at the following examples.

It was an error of judgment that led to his downfall.

You do not speak in this manner. However, you can find these types of sentences used in books and such pieces of writings. That is because error is a word that is used more in written language.

I don’t know what is wrong with my computer. An error message keeps on popping when I try to print.

Here, in this sentence, the word error is meant to be computer error. You never say computer mistake. It is always a computer error.

Difference Between Error and Mistake

What is a Mistake?

A mistake can be defined as a misguided or wrong judgment, opinion or act. It is a term that is used in day to day life for such acts. A common example taken from day to day life is mistaking salt for sugar. A mistake is a wrongful act that has occurred due to the ignorance of a person and is often unintentionally done so. The term mistake is a word that is used more often in spoken English as it is not seen to be often used in formal English. Following is an example for the use of mistake.

My mistake! I mistook my umbrella for yours. Sorry!

In this sentence, the speaker says my mistake which is commonly used phrase in such situations. Also, you can see how the verb mistake is used in the past tense for this sentence.


What is the difference between Error and Mistake?

Error and mistake are two words that imply a wrongful deed often done unintentionally. Although used in different contexts, they can at times be used interchangeably as they both refer to the same concept more or less.

The word error is used in formal language. Mistake is a word that is used in everyday parlance. Error is used with regards to technical issues. Mistake is not used in reference to such matters.


Error vs Mistake

• Mistake is used in terms of an incorrect action, opinion or judgment. It is also used to express misunderstanding: for example, “I have mistaken you.”

• Error is a mistake that causes problems or affects the result of something and is used in formal contexts.

• Both these terms can be used interchangeably in certain contexts.


Further Reading:

  1. Difference Between Exception and Error
  2. Difference Between Misrepresentation and Mistake
Images By: mikafowler.com (CC BY -SA 2.0)Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)
  • dcntprncz

    thanx………..good elaboration….keep it up…………