[ 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), mis·took, mis·tak·en, mis·tak·ing.

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), mis·took, mis·tak·en, mis·tak·ing.

to be in error.

Idioms for mistake

    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


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.


mis·tak·er, nounmis·tak·ing·ly, adverbun·mis·tak·ing, adjectiveun·mis·tak·ing·ly, adverb


misnomer mistake (see confusables note at misnomer)

words often confused with mistake

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mistake

British Dictionary definitions for mistake

/ (mɪˈsteɪk) /


an error or blunder in action, opinion, or judgment
a misconception or misunderstanding

verb -takes, -taking, -took or -taken

(tr) to misunderstand; misinterpretshe mistook his meaning
(tr foll by for) to take (for), interpret (as), or confuse (with)she mistook his direct manner for honesty
(tr) to choose badly or incorrectlyhe mistook his path
(intr) to make a mistake in action, opinion, judgment, etc

Derived forms of mistake

mistaker, noun

Word Origin for mistake

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

Idioms and Phrases with mistake


In addition to the idiom beginning with mistake

  • mistake for

also see:

  • by mistake
  • make no mistake
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.