Word Buildingerr, erratic, error; arrant, aberrant

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Origins

from The Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins

Like error (Middle English) and erratic (Late Middle English), err comes to us from Latin errare, which meant ‘to stray, wander’ but could also mean ‘to make a mistake’. The idea of straying or going off the correct course is still found in erratic, and also in the old term knight errant (Middle English), so called because they wandered far and wide in search of adventure. Arrant is a Middle English variant of errant, and aberrant (mid 16th century) is literally a ‘wandering away’ from the right path. The proverb to err is human, to forgive, divine is so old that it is found in Latin (humanum est errare, ‘it is human to err’), and also in the 14th-century work of Geoffrey Chaucer: ‘The proverb says that to sin is human, but to carry on sinning is the devil’s work.’ The precise wording that we are familiar with comes from An Essay on Criticism (1711) by the poet Alexander Pope.

Derivatives

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References
Acknowledgements

All authors must admit to a dependence on the work of others. We are no exception. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the publications and reference sources that we have consulted and adapted for educational purposes. It would also have been quite impossible to have produced the material on this website without adapting a variety of authentic resources that we have regularly referred to. While every effort has been made, it has not always been possible to identify and cite the sources of all the material used or to trace all copyright holders. We will be happy to omit any contents or include any appropriate acknowledgements when they are brought to our notice.

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