wander, make a mistake

Quick Summary

The Latin root word err means “wander” or “make a mistake,” which is a “wandering” from the correct answer. This Latin root is the word origin of a number of English vocabulary words, including errant and erratic. The root err is easily recalled via the word error, which is a “wandering” from the right answer.

Err Not with "Err"

The Latin root word err means “wander.” Let’s “wander” about in the English lexicon amidst those words which have the root err in them!

All humans make errors of one kind or another, that is, we all “wander” from the correct or right path, whatever that may be. There is a common Latin phrase which sums this up nicely: Errare humanum est: “To err is human.” The verb err in English itself means to “wander,” and thus “make a mistake.” Those who claim that they are unerring in their conduct, that is, those who never “wander,” might not be owning up to everything they have done!

Sometimes people act in an erratic fashion, “wandering” from their normal, day-to-day behavior for some reason. This aberrant behavior may manifest in strange ways, such as pretending to sniff with two noses or walking upside-down instead of right-side up. A person who would do that would erroneously believe that he was a double-noser upside-downer. Have you ever seen one?

Did you know that spelling and grammatical errors in printed works are called “errata”? One error is simply an erratum. The editors of published books in which errata are found were errant in their duties, “wandering” from their responsibilities of punctilious proofing. If a proofreader was especially bad at not finding errors he would be referred to as “arrant” since his “wandering” from his duties was more pronounced than usual.

You now need to no longer wonder about or “wander” from the meanings of those English derivatives that have the root err in them!

  1. error: a wandering from the correct answer
  2. errare humanum est: to “wander” or “make a mistake” is human
  3. err: to “wander” from the truth
  4. unerring: never “wandering” from doing the right thing
  5. erratic: of “wandering” behavior instead of normal, right behavior
  6. aberrant: of “wandering” from the norm
  7. erroneous: “wandering” from the truth
  8. errata: “wanderings” in the form of mistakes in printed works
  9. erratum: a “wandering” in the form of a mistake in a printed work
  10. errant: “wandering” from the correct path
  11. arrant: really “wandering” from the correct path


  • aberrant

    When something is aberrant, it is unusual, not socially acceptable, or a departure from the norm.

  • errant

    Errant things or people behave in a way that is unacceptable or wrong, such as a missile that travels in the wrong direction or a student who does not follow classroom rules.

  • erratic

    Erratic behavior is irregular, unpredictable, and unusual.

  • erroneous

    If a statement is erroneous, it is incorrect or in error.

  • arrant

    The adjective arrant is used to emphasize someone's conduct as being thoroughly or completely worthy of disapproval.

  • error

    An error is a mistake someone has made—what they have done is wrong or not correct.

  • aberration

    a state or condition markedly different from the norm

  • err

    to make a mistake or be incorrect

  • unerring

    not liable to error

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