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mistake [noun]
US /mɪˈsteɪk/ 
UK /mɪˈsteɪk/ 

I'm not blaming you - we all make mistakes.

Oxford Essential Dictionary


something that you think or do that is wrong:
You have made a lot of spelling mistakes in this letter.
It was a mistake to go by bus – the journey took two hours!

which word?
Mistake or fault? When you make a mistake you do something wrong: Try not to make any mistakes in your exam. If you do something bad it is your fault: It's my fault we're late. I lost the tickets.

by mistake when you did not plan to do it:
Sorry, I took your book by mistake.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English


I.   noun

I. mistake1 S2 W2 /məˈsteɪk, mɪˈsteɪk/ noun
  [Word Family: adverb: unmistakably, mistakenly; adjective: mistaken, unmistakable; verb: mistake; noun: mistake]
 1. [countable] something that has been done in the wrong way, or an opinion or statement that is incorrect ⇨ error
  mistake in
   • We may have made a mistake in our calculations.
   • The most common mistake is to plant them too deep.
 2. [countable] something you do that is not sensible or has a bad result:
   • Buying the house seemed a great idea at the time, but now I can see it was a terrible mistake.
   • Marrying him was the biggest mistake she ever made.
  make the mistake of doing something
   • I stupidly made the mistake of giving them my phone number.
 3. by mistake if you do something by mistake, you do it without intending to SYN accidentally OPP deliberately, on purpose:
   • Someone must have left the door open by mistake.
   • I’m sorry, this letter is addressed to you – I opened it by mistake.
 4. in mistake for somebody/something as a result of a mistake in which someone or something is wrongly thought to be someone or something else:
   • The boy was shot dead in mistake for a burglar.
 5. we all make mistakes spoken used to tell someone not to be worried because they have made a mistake
 6. make no mistake (about it) spoken used to emphasize that what you are saying is true, especially when you are warning about something serious or dangerous:
   • Make no mistake, this is the most serious threat our industry has ever seen.
 7. and no mistake British English spoken informal used to emphasize the description you have just given:
   • Miles was a heartbreaker, and no mistake!
     • • •

COLLOCATIONS(for Meaning 1)■ verbs

   ▪ make a mistakeThe lab must have made a mistake – this can’t be right.
   ▪ correct a mistakeLuckily I was able to correct the mistake before my boss saw it.
   ▪ realize your mistakeAs soon as he realized his mistake he turned in the right direction.
   ▪ admit your mistakeIt is better to admit your mistake and apologize.
   ▪ mistakes happenWe’re very careful, but mistakes can happen.


   ▪ a common mistakeA common mistake is to imagine that dogs think like humans.
   ▪ a little/minor mistakeThe essay was full of little mistakes.
   ▪ a serious/grave mistakeThere was a serious mistake in the instructions.
   ▪ an honest mistake (=a mistake, and not a deliberate action)Thomas admitted he had broken the law, but said that it had been an honest mistake.
   ▪ a silly/stupid mistakeYou need to be able to laugh at your own silly mistakes.
   ▪ an easy mistake (to make)She looks like her sister, so it’s an easy mistake to make.
   ▪ a spelling mistakeShe spotted two spelling mistakes in the article.

■ phrases

   ▪ be full of mistakesThe article was full of mistakes.
   ▪ it is a mistake to think/assume etc somethingIt would be a mistake to assume that all snakes are dangerous.
   ▪ there must be some mistake (=used when you think someone has made a mistake)There must be some mistake. I definitely booked a room for tonight.
   ▪ be full of mistakes (=have a lot of mistakes)The report was full of mistakes.
   ▪ be all a mistake (=used to say that a situation happened because of a mistake)He couldn’t bring himself to tell her it was all a mistake.


    ► Do not say 'do a mistake'. Say make a mistake.
     • • •

COLLOCATIONS(for Meaning 2)■ verbs

   ▪ make a mistakeI just want to prevent you from making a terrible mistake.
   ▪ learn from your mistakesI’m sure he will learn from his mistakes.
   ▪ repeat a mistakeWe certainly do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past.

■ adjectives

   ▪ a big/great mistakeBuying this car was a big mistake.
   ▪ a bad/terrible/dreadful etc mistakeIt would be a terrible mistake to marry him.
   ▪ a serious/grave mistakeThe decision to take the money was a serious mistake.
   ▪ a fatal mistake (=a very bad mistake, often one that ends something)His fatal mistake was to underestimate his opponent.
   ▪ a costly mistake (=that costs you money or has a bad result)Hiring him turned out to be a costly mistake.

■ phrases

   ▪ it is a mistake to do somethingIt is a mistake to try to see everything in the museum in one day.
   ▪ make the mistake of doing somethingHe made the mistake of revealing his true intentions.
   ▪ make the same mistake again/twiceWe won’t make the same mistake again.
     • • •


   ▪ mistake something incorrect that you accidentally do, say, or write: • a spelling mistake | • I made a mistake – it should say £230, not £320.
   ▪ error formal a mistake: • an error in the report | • grammatical errors | • He had made a serious error on his tax form.
   ▪ misprint a small mistake in something that is printed: • There was a misprint in the article, and instead of ‘pleasant’ it said ‘pheasant’.
   ▪ typo informal a mistake in something that has been typed or printed: • I spotted a couple of typos in the letter.
   ▪ inaccuracy formal a piece of information that is not completely correct: • The report contained several inaccuracies.
   ▪ mix-up a careless mistake in which one name, time, address etc has been confused with another, so that the details of something are wrong: • There was a mix-up over the train times and I missed my train.
   ▪ slip-up a careless mistake when you are doing something: • The other team took advantage of the goalie’s slip-up.
   ▪ oversight a mistake in which you forget something or do not notice something: • Through some oversight, the brochures were not ready by the right date.
   ▪ a slip of the tongue a mistake in which you accidentally say a similar sounding word: • When I said Thursday, I meant Tuesday. It was a slip of the tongue.
   ▪ faux pas /ˌfəʊ ˈpɑː, ˈfəʊ pɑː $ ˌfoʊ ˈpɑː/ formal an embarrassing mistake in a social situation, when you do or say something that you shouldn’t: • Harris, trying to be funny, addressed the waiter as ‘boy’. A deathly silence followed this faux pas.

■ a stupid mistake

   ▪ blunder a stupid mistake caused by not thinking carefully enough about what you are saying or doing, which could have serious results: • In a serious blunder by the hospital, two babies were sent home with the wrong parents.
   ▪ gaffe /ɡæf/ an embarrassing and stupid mistake made in a social situation or in public: • a serious gaffe in her speech about immigration
   ▪ howler British English a very bad mistake, especially one that shows you do not know something, and that often makes other people laugh: • Photographers should be careful of making classic howlers, such as having a tree grow out of your subject’s head.
   ▪ cock-up British English informal a silly mistake when you are doing something – a very informal use: • They made a cock-up with the bill. | • The government is anxious to avoid any more cock-ups.  

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


mis·take [mistake mistakes mistook mistaking mistaken] noun, verb   [mɪˈsteɪk]    [mɪˈsteɪk] 


1. an action or an opinion that is not correct, or that produces a result that you did not want

• It's easy to make a mistake.

• This letter is addressed to someone else— there must be some mistake.

• It would be a mistake to ignore his opinion.

• Don't worry, we all make mistakes.

• You must try to learn from your mistakes.

• Leaving school so young was the biggest mistake of my life.

• I made the mistake of giving him my address.

• It was a big mistake on my part to have trusted her.

• a great/serious/terrible mistake

• It's a common mistake (= one that a lot of people make).

2. a word, figure, etc. that is not said or written down correctly

Syn:  error

• It's a common mistake among learners of English.

• The waiter made a mistake (in) adding up the bill.

• Her essay is full of spelling mistakes.


Word Origin:

late Middle English (as a verb): from Old Norse mistaka ‘take in error’, probably influenced in sense by Old French mesprendre.



mistake noun

1. C

• Don't worry— we all make mistakes.

error • • blunder • • gaffe • • oversight • |formal omission

sth happens due to a/an error/mistake/blunder/oversight/omission

make a/an mistake/error/blunder/gaffe

realize/admit (to) a/an mistake/error/blunder

correct a/an mistake/error/blunder/omission

2. C

• His essay is full of spelling mistakes.

error • • slip • • misprint • • inaccuracy • |especially BrE, informal howler

a/an mistake/error/islip/misprint/naccuracy/howler in sth

make a/an mistake/error/slip/howler

contain/be full of mistakes/errors/misprints/inaccuracies/howlers




error • inaccuracy • slip • howler • misprint

These are all words for a word, figure or fact that is not said, written down or typed correctly.

mistake • a word or figure that is not said or written down correctly: It's a common mistake among learners of English. ◊ spelling mistakes

error • (rather formal) a word, figure, etc. that is not said or written down correctly: There are too many errors in your work.

Error is a more formal way of saying mistake.

inaccuracy • (rather formal) a piece of information that is not exactly correct: The article is full of inaccuracies.

slip • a small mistake, usually made by being careless or not paying attention

howler • (informal, especially BrE) a stupid mistake, especially in what sb says or writes: The report is full of howlers.

A howler is usually an embarrassing mistake which shows that the person who made it does not know sth that they really should know.

misprint • a small mistake in a printed text

a(n) mistake/error/inaccuracy/slip/howler/misprint in sth

to make a(n) mistake/error/slip/howler

to contain/be full of mistakes/errors/inaccuracies/howlers/misprints


Example Bank:

• All those problems because of one little mistake!

• Don't make the same mistake as I did.

• Don't worry about it— it's an easy mistake to make!

• I kept telling myself that it was all a terrible mistake.

• I made a mistake about her.

• I picked up the wrong bag by mistake.

• It is a great mistake to assume that your children will agree with you.

• It isn't possible to eliminate all mistakes.

• Mistakes are bound to happen sometimes.

• Ordinary people are paying for the government's mistakes.

• The company has learned from its past mistakes.

• The teacher kindly pointed out the mistake.

• They all commit similar mistakes.

• This dress was an expensive mistake.

• Too late, she realized her mistake.

• We can help you avoid costly mistakes.

• Don't worry, we all make mistakes.

• Her essay is full of spelling mistakes.

• It's a common mistake among learners of English.

• It's easy to make a mistake.

• The waiter made a mistake in adding up the bill.

• You must try to learn from your mistakes.

Idioms: and no mistake  by mistake  in mistake for something  make no mistake

Derived: mistake somebody for somebody 

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

mistake / mɪˈsteɪk / noun [ C ]

A2 an action, decision, or judgment that produces an unwanted or unintentional result:

I'm not blaming you - we all make mistakes.

[ + to infinitive ] It was a mistake for us to come here tonight.

This letter's full of spelling mistakes.

I've discovered a few mistakes in your calculations.

Why am I under arrest? There must be some mistake.

by mistake B1 by accident:

I've paid this bill twice by mistake.

Word partners for mistake noun

make a mistake • learn from a mistake • admit / realize your mistake • avoid / correct / repeat a mistake • a big / costly / fatal / terrible mistake • a genuine / honest mistake • a silly mistake • a mistake in sth

Collins Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary


 mistakes, mistaking, mistook, mistaken
 1) N-COUNT: oft N of -ing, also by N If you make a mistake, you do something which you did not intend to do, or which produces a result that you do not want.
  They made the big mistake of thinking they could seize its border with a relatively small force...
  I think it's a serious mistake to confuse books with life...
  Jonathan says it was his mistake...
  There must be some mistake...
  He has been arrested by mistake.
 2) N-COUNT A mistake is something or part of something which is incorrect or not right.
  Her mother sighed and rubbed out another mistake in the crossword puzzle...
  Spelling mistakes are often just the result of haste.
 3) VERB If you mistake one person or thing for another, you wrongly think that they are the other person or thing.
  [V n for n] I mistook you for Carlos...
  [V n for n] When hay fever first occurs it is often mistaken for a summer cold.
 4) VERB If you mistake something, you fail to recognize or understand it.
  [V n] The government completely mistook the feeling of the country...
  [V wh] No one should mistake how serious the issue is.
 5) PHRASE: V inflects, PHR n (emphasis) You can say there is no mistaking something when you are emphasizing that you cannot fail to recognize or understand it.
  There's no mistaking the eastern flavour of the food...
  There was no mistaking Magda's sincerity, or her pain.

Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary

1mis·take /məˈsteɪk/ noun, pl -takes [count] : something that is not correct : a wrong action, statement, or judgment : error
• It would be a mistake to assume that we can rely on their help.
• There must be some mistake.
• a stupid/careless mistake
• a costly/serious/bad mistake
• a deadly/fatal/tragic mistake
• The manuscript contains numerous spelling mistakes.
• There's a mistake in the schedule.
• “When does the movie start?” “At 8:00. No, wait—my mistake—it starts at 8:30.”
• Don't worry about it. It was an honest mistake. [=something that anyone could be wrong about]
- often used with make
• Everybody makes mistakes from time to time.
• I made the mistake of believing her.
- see also make no mistake (below)
and no mistake chiefly Brit old-fashioned
- used to stress the truth or accuracy of a statement
• She's the one I saw, and no mistake. [=she is definitely the person I saw]
by mistake : because of a mistake : without intending to
• I got on the wrong train by mistake. [=accidentally]
make no mistake
- used to stress the truth or accuracy of a statement
Make no mistake (about it), if we don't address these problems now, they will only get worse.