I cannot comprehend the phrase "error on" in this sentence:

For simplicity, I will focus on real-valued matrices and vectors, and I error on the side of intuitive examples rather than generalizations.

from this article: A Geometrical Understanding of Matrices by an American.

I googled and found that error can be used as a verb, but it seems that in the above sentence "error on" has nothing to do with "error". Is it slang? What does it mean?

  • 2
    I'm guessing the author (or his editor) got tripped up by grammar correcting software.
    – BillOnne
    Oct 11, 2022 at 15:40
  • 1
    @BillOnne: Any grammar correcting software that steered the user towards using the noun error instead of the verb err in the cited context would be worse than useless! So I seriously doubt that's the "explanation". Oct 11, 2022 at 16:06
  • @FumbleFingers You would think that software would not add grammar errors. But you would be disappointed. Much grammar software is very horrible. It's especially bad when authors start leaning on it and stop doing their own proof reading. But I'm guessing the software offered choices and the author quickly clicked the wrong one, the software accepted it, and the error was then cemented in.
    – BillOnne
    Oct 11, 2022 at 16:14
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    @BillOnne: I wouldn't deliberately use any grammar correcting software. I don't go out of my way to disable spell checking features if they're automatically included in some software I'm using anyway. So my Brave browser is checking the words as I write in this comment box, and it's already "red-underline-alerted" me twice that I had finger trouble and typed p instead of o in software. But it's perfectly happy to let me type err errs erring erred here because they're all valid words. Explicitly programmed syntax checking is a waste of time, though. Oct 11, 2022 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


It looks like a mistake.
Merriam-Webster shows error as a noun, while err is the related verb:

M-W error

M-W err
intransitive verb
to make a mistake
erred on the side of caution

M-W's example above shows the usual use of err on the side of.
The sense is that the speaker is more cautious than not, even if that results in some error.

In your example, the speaker is claiming to use more intuitive examples, while admitting that doing so may introduce some error.

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