errant (comparative more errant, superlative most errant)
- Straying from the proper course or standard, or outside established limits.
- Sir Thomas Browne
- seven planets or errant stars in the lower orbs of heaven
- Prone to making errors.
- (proscribed) Utter, complete (negative); arrant.
- Ben Jonson
- would make me an errant fool
Sometimes arrant (“utter, complete”) is considered simply an alternative spelling and pronunciation of errant, though most authorities distinguish them, reserving errant to mean “wandering” and using it after the noun it modifies, notably in “knight errant”, while using arrant to mean “utter”, in a negative sense, and before the noun it modifies, notably in “arrant knaves”.
Etymologically, arrant arose as a variant of errant, but the meanings have long since diverged. Both terms are primarily used in set phrases (which may be considered cliché), and are easily confused, and on that basis some authorities suggest against using either.
- (utter, complete): arrant (generally distinguished; see usage)
straying from the proper course or standard
traveling in search of adventure
- “arrant/errant”, Common Errors in English Usage, Paul Brians
- On Language: Arrant Nonsense, William Safire, January 22, 2006, New York Times
- Merriam–Webster’s dictionary of English usage, 1995, “errant, arrant”, pp. 406–407
- third-person plural present active indicative of errō
Present participle of errer (“to wander”), from Latin iterō (“I travel; I voyage”) rather than from errō, which is the ancestor of the other etymology of error (“to err; to make an error”).
errant m (oblique and nominative feminine singular errant or errante)
- wandering; nomadic
- The Anglo-Norman ‘Alexander’ (‘Le Roman de Toute Chevalerie’) by Thomas of Kent, ed. B. Foster, with the assistance of I. Short, ANTS 29-31 (1976), and 32-33 (1977). Available online at anglo-norman.net.
- si est un pople qe n’est mie erranz; Ja n'istra de son regne
- If it's a people that is not nomadic, it will never leave his kingdom