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[mi-steyk] /mɪˈsteɪk/
an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.
a misunderstanding or misconception.
verb (used with object), mistook, mistaken, mistaking.
to regard or identify wrongly as something or someone else:
I mistook him for the mayor.
to understand, interpret, or evaluate wrongly; misunderstand; misinterpret.
verb (used without object), mistook, mistaken, mistaking.
to be in error.
and no mistake, for certain; surely:
He's an honorable person, and no mistake.
Origin of mistake
1300-30; Middle English mistaken (v.) < Old Norse mistaka to take in error. See mis-1, take
Related forms
mistaker, noun
mistakingly, adverb
unmistaking, adjective
unmistakingly, adverb
Can be confused
misnomer, mistake (see confusables note at misnomer)
1. inaccuracy, erratum, fault, oversight. Mistake, blunder, error, slip refer to deviations from right, accuracy, correctness, or truth. A mistake, grave or trivial, is caused by bad judgment or a disregard of rule or principle: It was a mistake to argue. A blunder is a careless, stupid, or gross mistake in action or speech, suggesting awkwardness, heedlessness, or ignorance: Through his blunder the message was lost. An error (often interchanged with mistake ) is an unintentional wandering or deviation from accuracy, or right conduct: an error in addition. A slip is usually a minor mistake made through haste or carelessness: a slip of the tongue. 4. misconceive, misjudge, err.
2. understanding.
Confusables note
See misnomer. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mistake
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Without reasons I was sure of, you know, so there could be no chance of any mistake.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • "Nothing, only you locked the door by mistake," said Ben, coolly.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • He'll be the corn king all right by June 1st; don't make any mistake on that.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • "If you will consult the captain, you may learn your mistake," said Robert.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Shot a damn cock pheasant by mistake, and had to bury the thing in my own covers.

    Viviette William J. Locke
British Dictionary definitions for mistake


an error or blunder in action, opinion, or judgment
a misconception or misunderstanding
verb -takes, -taking, -took, -taken
(transitive) to misunderstand; misinterpret: she mistook his meaning
(transitive) foll by for. to take (for), interpret (as), or confuse (with): she mistook his direct manner for honesty
(transitive) to choose badly or incorrectly: he mistook his path
(intransitive) to make a mistake in action, opinion, judgment, etc
Derived Forms
mistaker, noun
Word Origin
C13 (meaning: to do wrong, err): from Old Norse mistaka to take erroneously
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 mistake

early 14c., "to commit an offense;" late 14c., "to misunderstand, misinterpret," from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse mistaka "take in error, miscarry"), from mis- "wrongly" (see mis- (1)) + taka "take" (see take (v.)). Related: Mistook; mistaking.


1630s, from mistake (v.). Meaning "unintended pregnancy" is from 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with mistake


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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