err on the side of
Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- (idiomatic, transitive) To behave in a manner which favours or which is biased toward.
1849, James Fenimore Cooper, chapter 15, in The Sea Lions:
- Every man would prefer that the woman in whom he feels an interest should err on the side of bigotry rather than on that of what is called liberalism in points of religious belief.
1893, George Gissing, chapter 13, in The Odd Women:
- You tend to err on the side of severity.
1890, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, chapter 6, in The Sign of Four:
- We must not err on the side of overconfidence.
- 1914, Arthur Quiller-Couch, "On Style" in On the Art of Writing:
- Let us err, then, if we err, on the side of liberty.
- 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, episode 13:
- It did not err on the side of luxury.
- Since the early 20th century, this expression is most commonly used in err on the side of caution.