What is the Difference between ERROR and MISTAKE?

I always hate it when I make a mistake. When I type something incorrectly when I am in a rush or say the wrong thing. The other word you probably came across is an error. What’s the difference between ERROR and MISTAKE? Both terms overlap each other as they both refer to a wrong or incorrect action. For example, incorrect exam answer could be called both an error and a mistake.

There are, however, significant differences.

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Difference between ERROR and MISTAKE

In most cases, a mistake is a decision that later turns out to be wrong. You might feel that you made a wrong choice (mistake) if you are not satisfied with the outcome of your decision.

An error is a more formal word and is generally used when the chosen action is compared to a set of rules. The action is considered to be wrong if it is different to the rules. Computers, of course, produce various errors when they are not working properly.

This also got me thinking about the English vocabulary words we use when we do something incorrectly.

Difference between Error and Mistake - Infographic

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Alternative Words for Mistake in English

ERROR: There is an error in this report. You have used the wrong word.

TYPO: Informal English language to explain a word written incorrectly in an email or letter because you were in a rush or you cannot type very well.

There is a typo in my email, sorry I meant to say God instead of Dog.

MISTAKE: We make mistakes all of the time. Some can be big and some small.

Sorry, I made a mistake I meant to make my appointment for 10 am not 11 am.

We can also be mistaken in what we see. 

For example, mistaken identity refers to a situation where a person is incorrectly identified as committing a crime because he looked similar to the real criminal.

Important to remember that we MAKE mistakes not DO mistakes!!

BLUNDER: very informal English language to describe when you make any type of mistake.

I am sorry I made a blunder. I sent the letter to the wrong person. I will have to apologise.

There are many other informal words to use such as: BLOOMER and HOWLER.

Recently, when I was watching a Newcastle United football match, the referee made many mistakes. He had a howler (bad game) and made lots of bloomers (wrong decisions)!!!

More Information

For more English vocabulary words and real English phrases, check out the following links:

How to Warn Someone in English

How to Ask for and Give Permissions in English

English Words for New Start

Music Idioms

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