Error

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The word error entails different meanings and usages relative to how it is conceptually applied. The concrete meaning of the Latin word error is "wandering" or "straying". To the contrary of an illusion, an error or a mistake can sometimes be dispelled through knowledge (knowing that one is looking at a mirage and not at real water doesn't make the mirage disappear). However, some errors can occur even when individuals have the required knowledge to perform a task correctly. Examples include forgetting to collect change after buying chocolate from a vending machine, forgetting the original document after making photocopies, and forgetting to turn the gas off after cooking a meal. These slip errors can occur when an individual is distracted by something else.

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Human behavior

One reference differentiates between "error" and "mistake" as follows:

In human behavior the norms or expectations for behavior or its consequences can be derived from the intention of the actor or from the expectations of other individuals or of a social grouping or from social norms. (See deviance.) Gaffes and faux pas can be labels for certain instances of this kind of error. More serious departures from social norms carry labels such as misbehavior and labels from the legal system, such as misdemeanor and crime. Departures from norms connected to religion can have other labels, such as sin.

Oral and written language

An individual language user's deviations from standard language norms in grammar, syntax, pronunciation and punctuation are sometimes referred to as errors. However in light of the role of language usage in everyday social class distinctions, many feel that linguistics should be descriptive rather than prescriptive to avoid reinforcing dominant class value judgments about what linguistic forms should and should not be used. See also Error analysis.

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