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comedy of errors

A situation or series of events characterized by a number of humorous or ridiculous mix-ups, mishaps, or blunders. Taken from one of Shakespeare's early comedies, The Comedy of Errors. Their business was a comedy of errors by the end, with orders constantly being confused, employees arriving at the wrong time, and the financial accounts being all over the place. The story is a delightful comedy of errors, in which every sort of mistake and confusion that can arise does—with everything working out just fine in the end, of course.
See also: comedy, error, of

schoolboy error

A very simple, basic, or fundamental mistake or error. Primarily heard in UK. Thanks to a schoolboy error by their opponents' keeper, the football club will advance to the next round of the tourney. The math textbook had to be reprinted after several schoolboy errors were discovered in some of the equations.
See also: error, schoolboy

in error

Mistakenly or by accident. My apologies, I sent you that document in error. So I just found out that the doctor's office called me in error—I'm so relieved!
See also: error

see the error of (one's) ways

To realize that one has been wrong and/or has behaved poorly. I'm afraid it took me too long to see the error of my ways. But it's not too late for you. He'll never see the error of his ways if he keeps being rewarded for the bad decisions he's made.
See also: error, of, see, way

rounding error

a large amount of money that is relatively small in comparison to a much larger sum. To a large company like Smith & Co., a few thousand dollars is just a rounding error. It's not a lot at all.
See also: error, round

trial and error

trying repeatedly for success. I finally found the right key after lots of trial and error. Sometimes trial and error is the only way to get something done.
See also: and, error, trial

comedy of errors

A complex or humorous series of events, as in Mary and John went to the Smiths', while the Smiths went to the Parkers', and the Parkers wondered why no one answered the door at John and Mary's-a true comedy of errors . The term borrows the title of Shakespeare's play, The Comedy of Errors, about two sets of twin brothers, master and slave, who are separated in infancy, and the mix-ups occurring when they arrive in the same place many years later. [c. 1600]
See also: comedy, error, of

fall into

1. Enter or engage in, be drawn into, as in I told Dad not to fall into conversation with them. [Late 1400s]
2. See fall in, def. 1.
3. Be naturally divisible into, as in These students fall into three categories. [First half of 1600s]
4. fall into error or sin . Be drawn into bad behavior, as in I fell into error when I started spending time with the wrong crowd. This usage, like fall from grace, originally alluded to religious concerns. It is now used less often and more loosely. [Late 1100s]
5. fall into a trap. Be deceived, unknowingly become involved in something. For example, By admitting I had free time, I fell into the trap of having to help him with his work . Also see under fall in; fall in line; fall in place.
See also: fall

trial and error

An attempt to accomplish something by trying various means until the correct one is found. for example, The only way to solve this problem is by trial and error. The error here alludes to the failed means or attempts, which are discarded until the right way is found. [c. 1800]
See also: and, error, trial

see the error of your ways

COMMON If you see the error of your ways, you realise that you have behaved badly and start to understand how you can do better. I wanted an opportunity to talk some sense into him and try to make him see the error of his ways. Note: You can also say that you realise the error of your ways. It took him a long time, he says, to realise the error of his ways. Note: You can also point out or show someone the error of their ways. He only responded when his players pointed out the error of his ways. But I firmly believe that many of these conservatives can be shown the error of their ways.
See also: error, of, see, way

trial and error

the process of experimenting with various methods of doing something until you find the most successful.
See also: and, error, trial

the ˌerror of your ˈways

(formal or humorous) what is wrong and should be changed about the kind of life you are leading: While he was in prison, a social worker visited him in an attempt to make him see the error of his ways.
See also: error, of, way

by ˌtrial and ˈerror

trying different ways of doing something until you find the right one: I didn’t know how to use the camera at first, so I had to learn by trial and error.
See also: and, error, trial

fall into

v.
1. To descend or drop freely or effortlessly into something: I was so tired that I went to my bedroom and fell into bed.
2. To come to assume a configuration, pattern, or order: The lines of text fell into neat rows. After a quick meeting, our plans fell into place.
3. To come upon, receive, or become involved with something, especially by chance: They fell into a lot of money unexpectedly, so they bought a new car.
4. To undergo a change of state or emotion, especially a negative change: I took one look at my class schedule and fell into a bad mood. The tenants complained when the apartment building fell into disrepair.
See also: fall

comedy of errors

A ludicrous event or sequence of events: The candidate's campaign turned out to be a political comedy of errors.
See also: comedy, error, of
References in classic literature ?
On doubts being expressed as to the correctness of this method, they immediately proved that not only was the mean distance 234,347 miles, but that astronomers could not possibly be in error in their estimate by more than seventy miles either way.
Suppose that he has been guilty of some irreparable error, from the shameful consequences of which there is no escape; a sordid nature swallows down the disgrace and survives it, the wise man drinks the hemlock and dies.
So, in any case, suicide seemed to me to be an unpardonable error, even in the man who, through a false conception of greatness of soul, takes his life a few moments before the executioner's axe falls.
To this accidental source of the error may be added the artifice of some celebrated authors, whose writings have had a great share in forming the modern standard of political opinions.
I submit to you, my fellow-citizens, these considerations, in full confidence that the good sense which has so often marked your decisions will allow them their due weight and effect; and that you will never suffer difficulties, however formidable in appearance, or however fashionable the error on which they may be founded, to drive you into the gloomy and perilous scene into which the advocates for disunion would conduct you.
If you had not suggested our marriage, my servant would not have gone to the Reverend Samuel Wilson's, I should not have been apprised of my error, and--"
absolute continuity) and thereby corrects the inevitable error which the human mind cannot avoid when it deals with separate elements of motion instead of examining continuous motion.
A few months ago I was at the old home, and I read that book again, after not looking at it for more than thirty years; and I read it with amazement at its prevailing artistic vulgarity, its prevailing aesthetic error shot here and there with gleams of light, and of the truth that Reade himself was always dimly groping for.
And that is why I can triumph over your error and your merely animal intelligence, Frederic Larsan.
Even this, however, does not remove the practical risk of error, since we may mistakenly believe it self-evident that a certain belief is self-evident.
The next thing to observe (although I do not personally doubt that most of our judgments of perception are true) is that it is very difficult to define any class of such judgments which can be known, by its intrinsic quality, to be always exempt from error.
There is no way hitherto discovered of wholly eliminating the risk of error, and no infallible criterion.
Martin & Pear, 2007), other research findings suggest that this approach, and the accompanying errors, may facilitate learning in the long run (Dormann & Frese, 1994; Kalish et al.
Frequency and determinants of drug administration errors in the intensive care unit.
Rescher also distinguishes between errors of omission, also known as 'type I errors', and errors of commission, known as 'type II errors'.