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 missta (to mistake) (before apocope misstaga). Displaced Middle English misnimen and Middle English misfōn from Old English misfōn (and noun misfeng).

The noun, which replaced earlier mistaking, is derived from the verb.


  • IPA(key): /mɪˈsteɪk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪk


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

  1. (transitive) To understand wrongly, taking one thing or person for another.
    Sorry, I mistook you for my brother. You look very similar.
    Don't mistake my kindness for weakness.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To misunderstand (someone).
  3. (intransitive, obsolete) To commit an unintentional error; to do or think something wrong.
    • 1598–1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “Much Adoe about Nothing”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene i], page 119:
      Impoſe me to what penance your inuention / Can lay vpon my ſinne, yet ſinn’d I not / But in miſtaking.
    • 1720, Jonathan Swift, “Letter to a Young Clergyman” in The Works of Jonathan Swift, London: Charles Elliot, 1784, Volume 10, pp. 6-7,[2]
      No gentleman thinks it is safe or prudent to send a servant with a message, without repeating it more than once, and endeavouring to put it into terms brought down to the capacity of the bearer; yet, after all this care, it is frequent for servants to mistake, and sometimes occasion misunderstandings among friends []
    • 1828, [Edward Bulwer-Lytton], chapter XVI, in Pelham; or, The Adventures of a Gentleman. [...] In Three Volumes, volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], OCLC 729841413, page 127:
      "Bah!" said the Englishwoman: "what knight ever feared cold? Besides, you mistake; the night is warm, and you look so handsome in your gown."
  4. (obsolete, rare) To take or choose wrongly.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Related termsEdit


mistake (plural mistakes)

  1. An error; a blunder.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:error
    There were too many mistakes in the test, that unfortunately you failed.
    • 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 [4]
      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.

Usage notesEdit

Derived termsEdit





Borrowed from English mistake.


mistake m (plural mistakes)

  1. (Louisiana, Cajun French) error, mistake