mid-14c., "to commit an offense;" late 14c., "to misunderstand, misinterpret, take in a wrong sense," from mis- (1) "badly, wrongly" + take (v.) or from a cognate Scandinavian source such as Old Norse mistaka "take in error, miscarry." Perhaps a blend of both words. The more literal sense of "take or choose erroneously" is from late 14c. Meaning "err in advice, opinion, or judgment" is from 1580s. Related: Mistook; mistaking.
"an error in action, opinion, or judgment," 1630s, from mistake (v.). The earlier noun was mistaking (c. 1300).
An error is a wandering from truth, primarily in impression, judgment, or calculation and, by extension of the idea, in conduct; it may be a state. A mistake is a false judgment or choice; it does not, as error sometimes does, imply moral obliquity, the defect being placed wholly in the wisdom of the actor, and in its treatment of this defect the word is altogether gentle. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
Meaning "unintended pregnancy" is from 1957. No mistake "no doubt" is by 1818.
c. 1600, "under misapprehension, having made a mistake," past-participle adjective from mistake (v.). Meaning "misunderstood" is from 1590s; that of "erroneous, incorrect" is from 1670s. Related: Mistakenly. Mistaken identity in criminal cases is attested by 1838.
mid-13c., amis "off the mark," also "out of order," literally "on the miss," from a "in, on" (see a- (1)) + missen "fail to hit" (see miss (v.)). From late 14c. as "improper, wrong, faulty;" to take (something) amiss originally (late 14c.) was "to miss the meaning of" (see mistake). Now it means "to misinterpret in a bad sense."
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to change, go, move," "with derivatives referring to the exchange of goods and services within a society as regulated by custom or law" [Watkins].
It forms all or part of: amiss; amoeba; azimuth; common; commune; communicate; communication; communism; commute; congee; demean; emigrate; emigration; excommunicate; excommunication; immune; immutable; incommunicado; mad; mean (adj.1) "low-quality;" mew (n.2) "cage;" mews; migrate; migration; mis- (1) "bad, wrong;" mistake; Mithras; molt; Mstislav; municipal; munificent; mutable; mutant; mutate; mutation; mutatis mutandis; mutual; permeable; permeate; permutation; permute; remunerate; remuneration; transmutation; transmute; zenith.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit methati "changes, alternates, joins, meets;" Avestan mitho "perverted, false;" Hittite mutai- "be changed into;" Latin mutare "to change," meare "to go, pass," migrare "to move from one place to another," mutuus "done in exchange;" Old Church Slavonic mite "alternately;" Czech mijim "to go by, pass by," Polish mijać "avoid;" Gothic maidjan "to change."
"mistake," 1954, apparently a reduplication of boob "stupid person," which had acquired a secondary sense of "foolish mistake" (1934). In 1930s it was the nickname of Philadelphia gangster Max "Boo-Boo" Hoff.
1922, "waste time;" 1941; "make a mistake," from goof (n.). Goof off is from 1941, originally World War II armed forces, "to make a mistake at drill;" by 1945 as "to loaf, waste time," also as a noun for one who does this. Related: Goofed; goofing.