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

Synonyms for errand Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for errands

duty, assignment, charge, mission, commission, job, message

Examples from the Web for errands

Contemporary Examples of errands

Historical Examples of errands

  • 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.


    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

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 for errand

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

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

Idioms and Phrases with errands


see fool's errand; run an errand.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.