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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English erande, erende, from Old English ǣrende, from Proto-West Germanic *ārundī (message, errand).


  • enPR: ěr'-ənd, IPA(key): /ˈɛɹənd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛɹənd


errand (plural errands)

  1. A journey undertaken to accomplish some task.
    1. (literary or archaic) A mission or quest.
      • 1470–1485 (date produced), Thomas Malory, “(please specify the chapter)”, in [Le Morte Darthur], (please specify the book number), [London: [] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, →OCLC; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur [], London: David Nutt, [], 1889, →OCLC:
        What will ye, said King Arthur, and what is your errand?
        (please add an English translation of this quotation)
      • 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring:
        Few have ever come hither through greater peril or on an errand more urgent.
        In this evil hour I have come on an errand over many dangerous leagues to Elrond: a hundred and ten days I have journeyed all alone.
    2. A mundane mission of no great consequence, concerning household or business affairs (dropping items by, doing paperwork, going to a friend's house, etc.)
      The errands before he could start the project included getting material at the store and getting the tools he had lent his neighbors.
      I'm going to town on some errands.
  2. The purpose of such a journey.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter II, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, of errand not wholly obvious to their fellows, yet of such sort as to call into query alike the nature of their errand and their own relations. It is easily earned repetition to state that Josephine St. Auban's was a presence not to be concealed.
  3. An oral message trusted to a person for delivery.
    • 1633, John Donne, Elegy VII:
      I had not taught thee then the alphabet
      Of flowers, how they, devicefully being set
      And bound up, might with speechless secrecy
      Deliver errands mutely and mutually.

Derived terms[edit]



errand (third-person singular simple present errands, present participle erranding, simple past and past participle erranded)

  1. (transitive) To send someone on an errand.
    All the servants were on holiday or erranded out of the house.
  2. (intransitive) To go on an errand.
    She spent an enjoyable afternoon erranding in the city.