9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[mi-steyk] /mɪˈsteɪk/
an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.
a misunderstanding or misconception.
verb (used with object), mistook, mistaken, mistaking.
to regard or identify wrongly as something or someone else:
I mistook him for the mayor.
to understand, interpret, or evaluate wrongly; misunderstand; misinterpret.
verb (used without object), mistook, mistaken, mistaking.
to be in error.
and no mistake, for certain; surely:
He's an honorable person, and no mistake.
Origin of mistake
1300-30; Middle English mistaken (v.) < Old Norse mistaka to take in error. See mis-1, take
Related forms
mistaker, noun
mistakingly, adverb
unmistaking, adjective
unmistakingly, adverb
Can be confused
misnomer, mistake (see confusables note at misnomer)
1. inaccuracy, erratum, fault, oversight. Mistake, blunder, error, slip refer to deviations from right, accuracy, correctness, or truth. A mistake, grave or trivial, is caused by bad judgment or a disregard of rule or principle: It was a mistake to argue. A blunder is a careless, stupid, or gross mistake in action or speech, suggesting awkwardness, heedlessness, or ignorance: Through his blunder the message was lost. An error (often interchanged with mistake ) is an unintentional wandering or deviation from accuracy, or right conduct: an error in addition. A slip is usually a minor mistake made through haste or carelessness: a slip of the tongue. 4. misconceive, misjudge, err.
2. understanding.
Confusables note
See misnomer. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mistake
  • Eventually, the colony admitted the trials were a mistake and compensated the families of those convicted.
  • It has rarely been the case that any mistake has been made.
  • It is a mistake to think that they are helpless little creatures, to be pitied and cried over because they are alone in the world.
  • Mysticism consists in the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one.
  • It is usually a mistake to invite great talkers together.
  • It is a mistake to suppose that he could ever have been intended for the popular personification of evil.
  • And don't make the mistake of thinking that if dolphins are present, there won't be any sharks around.
  • Perhaps they mistake them for trees, or want to hunt the insects that swarm around the tall, white structures.
  • Bags that wind up in the ocean are deadly hazards for sea turtles and other fish, who mistake them for jellyfish.
  • But make no mistake-this ain't some hippy-dippy attempt at selling ice cream.
British Dictionary definitions for mistake


an error or blunder in action, opinion, or judgment
a misconception or misunderstanding
verb -takes, -taking, -took, -taken
(transitive) to misunderstand; misinterpret: she mistook his meaning
(transitive) foll by for. to take (for), interpret (as), or confuse (with): she mistook his direct manner for honesty
(transitive) to choose badly or incorrectly: he mistook his path
(intransitive) to make a mistake in action, opinion, judgment, etc
Derived Forms
mistaker, noun
Word Origin
C13 (meaning: to do wrong, err): from Old Norse mistaka to take erroneously
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mistake

early 14c., "to commit an offense;" late 14c., "to misunderstand, misinterpret," from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse mistaka "take in error, miscarry"), from mis- "wrongly" (see mis- (1)) + taka "take" (see take (v.)). Related: Mistook; mistaking.


1630s, from mistake (v.). Meaning "unintended pregnancy" is from 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with mistake


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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