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[er-uh nd] /ˈɛr ənd/
a short and quick trip to accomplish a specific purpose, as to buy something, deliver a package, or convey a message, often for someone else.
the purpose of such a trip:
He finished his errands.
a special mission or function entrusted to a messenger; commission.
Origin of errand
before 900; Middle English erande, Old English ærende; cognate with Old High German āruntī; compare Old English ār messenger, Gothic airus
1, 2. mission, task, assignment, chore. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for errands
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Young lieutenants who rode forth on errands often failed to come back.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Nana, who had hastened to the window again, volunteered to do the errands if they liked.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • She had often been on errands alone in the great city, where everything was so confusing.

  • Them that had errands made it a p'int to cruise past that way.

    The Depot Master Joseph C. Lincoln
  • I don't mind doin' errands, only I like to have 'em appreciated.

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter Joseph C. Lincoln
  • What's the use of my runnin' errands when I pay him wages to run 'em for me?

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for errands


a short trip undertaken to perform a necessary task or commission (esp in the phrase run errands)
the purpose or object of such a trip
Word Origin
Old English ǣrende; related to ār messenger, Old Norse erendi message, Old High German ārunti, Swedish ärende
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for errands



Old English ærende "message, mission; answer, news, tidings," from Proto-Germanic *ærundjam (cf. Old Saxon arundi, Old Norse erendi, Danish ærende, Swedish ärende, Old Frisian erende, Old High German arunti "message"). Originally of important missions; meaning "short, simple journey and task" is attested by 1640s. Related: Errands.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with errands
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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