- 1 English
- 2 French
- 3 Latin
- 4 Old French
- erraunt (obsolete)
- Straying from the proper course or standard, or outside established limits.
- 1669, Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, page 244:
- In that there are just seven Planets or errant Stars in the lower Orbs of heaven: but it is now demonstrable unto sense, that there are many more
- Wandering; roving around.
- Prone to making errors; misbehaved.
- We ran down the street in pursuit of the errant dog.
- (proscribed) Utter, complete (negative); arrant.
- 1692 , Ben Jonson, Catiline His Conspiracy, page 243:
- Thy company, if I slept not very well / A nights, would make me an errant fool […]
Sometimes arrant (“utter, complete”) is considered simply an alternative spelling and pronunciation of errant, though most authorities distinguish them, reserving errant to mean “wandering” and using it after the noun it modifies, notably in “knight errant”, while using arrant to mean “utter”, in a negative sense, and before the noun it modifies, notably in “arrant knaves”.
Etymologically, arrant arose as a variant of errant, but the meanings have long since diverged. Both terms are primarily used in set phrases (which may be considered cliché) and, since they are easily confused, some authorities suggest against using either.
- (utter, complete): arrant (generally distinguished; see usage)
errant (plural errants)
- “errant” in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th edition, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, →ISBN.
- Paul Brians (May 17, 2016), “arrant/errant”, in Common Errors in English Usage
- William Safire (January 22, 2006), “On Language: Arrant Nonsense”, in New York Times
- “errant, arrant”, in Merriam–Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, 1995, page 406
- “errant” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).
errant m (oblique and nominative feminine singular errant or errante)
- wandering; nomadic
- 12th century CE, Thomas de Kent, 'Roman de toute chevalerie' [Roman of all chivalry], translation of Alexander romance; republished as B. Foster, with the assistance of I. Short, editor, 'The Anglo-Norman 'Alexander'', London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1976, ANTS 29-31 (1976), and 32-33 (1977):
- si est un pople qe n’est mie erranz; Ja n'istra de son regne
- If it's a people that is not nomadic, it will never leave his kingdom