Difference Between Error and Mistake

Main Difference – Error vs Mistake

Both error and mistake imply that something has been done wrong. Although error and mistake both refer to something wrong, inaccurate or faulty, there is a difference between them based on their usage. The main difference between error and mistake is that error is more formal and technical than mistake. Now we are going to look at these two words more closely and try to identify the other differences between them. Difference Between Error and Mistake - infographic

What is a Mistake

A mistake can refer to an act or judgment that is misguided or wrong. For example, you use the word mistake to refer to a decision which brought unsuccessful results.

Her decision to sell the house was a big mistake.

I realized that meeting him was a mistake.

Mistake can also be used to refer something (a word, figure, fact, etc.) that is not correct.  

You make too much spelling mistakes.

There is a mistake in this page.

The word mistake may sometimes also imply that the person who made the mistake have knowledge, even though did it inaccurately. It may be carelessness that resulted in a mistake. The person who made the mistake may be able to identify his own mistake.

Difference Between Error and Mistake

What is an Error

Error also has the same meaning as mistake. However, the word error is considered to be more formal than mistake. It is commonly used in technical and academic writing. Error is also used in relation to software and computer. Given below are some examples of the usage of this word:

This paper has several errors.

He made an error of judgment.

I received an error message saying that password is incorrect.

In linguistics, making errors in language indicate a person’s lack of knowledge. Therefore, the person who is making the error doesn’t know that he is doing something wrong. For example, you do not understand some concepts in math, so you make a lot of errors because you don’t have knowledge in math. Now, imagine a situation where you understand and know the concepts, but you did the calculations in a rush because you had to go out. You had knowledge, but it’s your carelessness that resulted in the mistakes.

Although error and mistake can sometimes be used interchangeably, they cannot be interchanged in some expressions such as error of judgment and human error.

Main Difference - Error vs Mistake

Difference Between Error and Mistake


Errors are made due to lack of knowledge.

Mistakes are accidental.


Error is more technical and formal than mistake.

Mistake is more informal and casual than error.

Image Courtesy:

“Windows 9X BSOD” By Akhristov at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by TFCforever. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 

“The four capital mistakes of open source” by opensource.com (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.