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From Middle English mistaken, from Old Norse mistaka (to take in error, to miscarry), equivalent to mis- +‎ take. Cognate with Icelandic mistaka (to mistake), Swedish misstaga (to mistake).



mistake (plural mistakes)

  1. An error; a blunder.
    • 1877, Henry Heth, quoting Robert E. Lee, in "Causes of the Defeat of Gen. Lee's Army at the Battle of GettysburgOpinions of Leading Confederate Soldiers.", Southern Historical Society Papers (1877), editor Rev. J. WM. Jones [1]
      After it is all over, as stupid a fellow as I am can see that mistakes were made. I notice, however, that my mistakes are never told me until it is too late.
  2. (baseball) A pitch which was intended to be pitched in a hard-to-hit location, but instead ends up in an easy-to-hit place.


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mistake (third-person singular simple present mistakes, present participle mistaking, simple past mistook, past participle mistaken)

  1. (transitive) To understand wrongly, taking one thing for another, or someone for someone else.
    Sorry, I mistook you for my brother. You look very similar.
    • Shakespeare
      My father's purposes have been mistook.
    • Johnson
      A man may mistake the love of virtue for the practice of it.
  2. (intransitive) To commit an unintentional error; to do or think something wrong.
    • Jonathan Swift
      Servants mistake, and sometimes occasion misunderstanding among friends.
  3. (obsolete, rare) To take or choose wrongly.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)


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