[ mi-stey-kuhn ]
/ mɪˈsteɪ kən /


wrongly conceived, held, or done: a mistaken antagonism.
erroneous; incorrect; wrong: a mistaken answer.
having made a mistake; being in error.

Origin of mistaken

1590–1600; past participle of mistake; see -en3
1 inaccurate, misconceived.
Related formsmis·tak·en·ly, adverbmis·tak·en·ness, nounun·mis·tak·en, adjective

Definition for mistaken (2 of 2)


[ 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.

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.
Related formsmis·tak·er, nounmis·tak·ing·ly, adverbun·mis·tak·ing, adjectiveun·mis·tak·ing·ly, adverb
Can be confusedmisnomer mistake (see confusables note at misnomer)

Confusables note

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

Examples from the Web for mistaken

British Dictionary definitions for mistaken (1 of 2)


/ (mɪˈsteɪkən) /


(usually predicative) wrong in opinion, judgment, etcshe is mistaken
arising from error in judgment, opinion, etca mistaken viewpoint
Derived Formsmistakenly, adverbmistakenness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for mistaken (2 of 2)


/ (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 Formsmistaker, 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 mistaken


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.