How is the past tense of "error" spelt in British English?

Wiktionary says that it's "errored", but its entry for errored doesn't explicitly say it's valid for British English, and I thought it'd get another "r" compared to American English.

This question is not a duplicate of Is "errored" correct usage? , because this is asking about spelling, and the other question is about whether using "error" as a verb is "correct" from a prescriptivist perspective.

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    I think both AmE and BrE prefer "erred". – Dan Bron May 5 '15 at 2:57
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    Since error is a noun derived from the verb to err, I must agree with Dan Bron; I have simply never seen error used as a verb. – Anonym May 5 '15 at 3:00
  • @Mari-LouA there wasn't a strong consensus that "error" can't be verbed. – Andrew Grimm May 5 '15 at 7:22
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    What do you mean by "no" that you cannot provide a sentence example? Why were you interested in its spelling then? (mouse hovers perilously over down arrow at this point) – Mari-Lou A May 5 '15 at 7:33
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    If this is not a duplicate of the question mentioned because it is asking about spelling, it's still off topic. Where's your evidence that BrEng spells it as errorred? You're basing your question on a false premise. NOT my downvote. – Mari-Lou A May 5 '15 at 10:21

According to oxford, error isn't a verb.

Err is, and here are its forms:

enter image description here

Not to knock wiktionary, but I wouldn't consider errored a verb form. Note that the entry doesn't cite any examples for this sense. Its examples as an adjective seem passable, though, especially in a technical sense.

The mean number of errored bits per errored symbol is therefore...

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    @HåkanLindqvist It it worth noting, though, that they only cite it as being included in the 1828 Webster dictionary. Tellingly, the 1913 Webster does not have it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 5 '15 at 10:22
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    Of course to error does not mean to err. That's why it exists in the first place. A program that errors does not err. In fact it probably functions precisely the way you wrote it. You may have erred, but the program errors. – RegDwigнt May 5 '15 at 10:29
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    @RegDwigнt: Or the program encounters an error, as the top answer to your linked question proposes, and as most people around me put it. – Tushar Raj May 5 '15 at 10:32
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    @RegDwigнt Been a while since my programming days, but we never used error as a verb that way. We did use to segfault in a similar sense, and on occasion errored out, and of course threw an error was a commonly-seen synonym for threw an exception, but much more frequently programs choked, croaked, died, etc. Why, in the good old days of Perl, those were even keywords (as was carp)! – Dan Bron May 5 '15 at 10:36
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    @Dan: yes, same here, but that's sort of beside the point. When the program segfaults, or chokes, or freezes, or dies, or errors out, or throws an exception, that still does not mean that it errs. It might or might not err. It only errs if it errors erroneously. – RegDwigнt May 5 '15 at 12:42

The entry for error (v) in OED has not been updated since 1891. As such, it's unlikely to include modern usages which arise from computing. Even the Oxford Dictionary of Computing is now six years old, which is rather a long time in the field.

Error is used as a verb. It's jargon, and means "produce an error message" or "fail with an error condition" or some such similar event.

  1. (verb) What a program does when it stops as result of a programming error.


Because it's computing jargon, it would probably sound out of place when used in other circumstances. It would be incorrect to say that I had errored in constructing this answer.

Computing jargon is generally spelled with American spellings, even in British English. Program and its derivatives are the obvious examples; many languages' verbs are spelled with a -z- spelling (like Oracle's ANALYZE function). Consequently, even if British English doubled the consonant for errorred it would be unlikely to persist.

In fact, there are rules for the doubling of consonants in English [see another ELU question]. There may be exceptions to those rules, but

  • error doesn't appear to be an exception (ends in schwa, so final consonant stays single);
  • its usage comes directly from American English (AmE doubles consonants far more rarely);
  • there is no separate entry in Wiktionary or FOLDOC indicating a transatlantic difference.
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  • Is the spelling of past tense of ‘prefer’ identical in both dialects (BrEng and AmEng); i.e. preferred? Is there a single case where the letter -r is not doubled before the suffix-ed in AmEng? I can't think of one. – Mari-Lou A May 5 '15 at 11:07
  • If you can answer this, I'll retract my vote to close this question. The downvote is not mine. – Mari-Lou A May 5 '15 at 11:10
  • I couldn't say about AmE. The final syllable of prefer is accented (so not a schwa) in BrE, so the consonant is doubled. But a single case you ask for is errored. – Andrew Leach May 5 '15 at 11:12
  • In that case, I don't understand your point. – Andrew Leach May 5 '15 at 11:15
  • Yes, but the spelling is the same for AmEng and BrEng. That's my point. Compare AmEng traveled and BrEng travelled, which is well documented. Most dictionaries list their different spellings. My point being that the OP is asking about a different way of spelling (errored), which he already found in a dictionary, and yet asks if BrEng spells it differently. He's done the research but he believes the opposite is true, based on what? – Mari-Lou A May 5 '15 at 11:23

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