Are these words totally interchangeable?
I made the [erroneous/wrong] decision.
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
'Erroneous' is typically used when you're talking about fact-based issues. It means incorrect or mistaken.
He made the erroneous assumption that the world was flat.
'Wrong' can be used in those situations too:
He's wrong about how much water will fit in that cup.
But it has broader meaning to include things that are morally or ethically wrong, unfair, or unjust.
Shoplifting is the wrong thing to do.
A number of dictionary definitions emphasise that the word "erroneous" is derived from the word "error":
containing or characterized by error : mistaken <erroneous assumptions>
Definition: mistaken, incorrect, or containing an error
Tips: Erroneous is related to the word error. Both words are derived from the Latin errare, “to wander, miss." If someone or something wanders off course, in error, it is erroneous. In business, you may garner more respect referring to an "erroneous transaction," than to a "mistake" or "mess-up." Usage Examples:
The erroneous assumption by the marketing manager cost the company thousands of dollars. (mistaken, false)
My erroneous planning is to blame for our missed deadline. (incorrect, false)
Generally, newspapers will retract and apologize for erroneous headlines and statements. (incorrect, mistaken)
His erroneous statements caused me a lot of trouble and time proving that he was mistaken. (incorrect, false)
containing or based on error; incorrect; mistaken.
The police acted on an erroneous assumption that the killer was a male.
The scientists made an erroneous interpretation of their findings. (http://www.wordsmyth.net/?ent=erroneous)
I think this helps to differentiate between erroneous and wrong to some extent:
erroneous clearly relates to an error, mistake, or inaccuracy.
Typical antonyms are: correct, accurate.
wrong can carry the same meaning, but also has the meaning as the antonym of right, as in the [morally] right or wrong behaviour.