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If "errored" is not a valid word, then how should I say:

The program errored at line 44

I guess I could say:

The program threw an error at line 44

But why is "errored" wrong? Is there a better alternative?

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    Best answer I've heard (not my own, but I like it) ... "Language is what we make of it. If "grrl" can be in the dictionary, errored can be a word." ... Yes, I'm American, can you tell? :^)
    – user9885
    Jun 13, 2011 at 18:57
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    Right click on the word. Select Add to Dictionary. Error is defined as a Noun, but we use it as a Verb, in another 10 years or so the Language Police will see the error in their ways, and allow us to use it as a Verb as well as a Noun, like Googling. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/googling
    – user19754
    Apr 5, 2012 at 20:10
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    The program suffered an error at line 44. The program committed an error at line 44. The program obtained an error at line 44. The program enjoyed an error at line 44. At line 44 the program put an error over on you.
    – GEdgar
    Apr 5, 2012 at 21:11
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    In computer science, the word error has its own meaning! as work has its own meaning in physics entirely different in meaning from mainstream usage of the same word. Hence, I would be satisfied with errored or for that matter error-ed... Apr 6, 2012 at 5:11
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    If it was correct, wouldn't it have another r as in errorred? Nov 30, 2016 at 16:28

10 Answers 10

35

I'd say errored IS a valid word. It's the past tense of the verb "to error". I've seen (well, mostly heard) this word used to mean

  • to operate incorrectly,
  • to display an error message,
  • to encounter an unexpected error,
  • to halt unexpectedly

This is a relatively recent usage of the word (I can't find any authoritative samples of it) it might be considered too informal or slangy. Also, some people might not be sure what precisely you are trying to say. Thus, you should describe more fully what the program is doing.

The program encountered an error at line 44.

Wiktionary

Merriam-Webster (new words, slang)

The verb 'to error' has a different meaning than 'to err'. An "error" in a computer program isn't necessarily a mistake, but can be an exceptional circumstance. For example, if a program tried to open its configuration file, but you deleted it, the program might fail by displaying an error for this unexpected circumstance. You could say "the program errored." You can't say "the program erred" because the program isn't making a mistake here.

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    It's not very standard usage. "To error" might be slowly becoming a verb but most educated speakers would say that "err" is the verb. Sep 17, 2010 at 3:06
  • @Joel: I'd say it's got a different nuance than "err". And sure, I agree that it's not widespread, but I hear it a lot in computer circles. Sep 17, 2010 at 13:45
  • I personally don't really like the word but use it regardless as it's concise and generic. It's a catch-all word for 'displayed an error', 'thrown an exception', 'crashed' etc. It's widely used as a word meaning 'did something wrong' without going into details as to what has actually happened. When I say 'my program errored in line 33' I expect the other person to know what I mean, otherwise I'd use another word to be more specific.
    – Gilead
    Apr 7, 2012 at 2:35
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    You used different terminology in your last paragraph: "error" and "exception(al)". I could argue (and languages such as Java would support me), that an exception is not an error. Would you then support usage of "the program exceptioned"? So you are right, you cannot say "the program erred", but neither can you say "the program errored". The program threw an exception. Feb 24, 2014 at 21:16
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    Just because "mistake" and "error" (as nouns) are sometimes synonymous doesn't mean that "to mistake" and "to error" need to be synonymous. The verb "to error" is not used by anyone to mean "to make a mistake". If there is anything consistent about "to error" it is that it does not mean "to err". Anyway you can't use "to mistake" synonymously with "to err" either. The patterns you see do not represent some kind of linguistic design. All language is created by its users, just like "to error". Jul 23, 2014 at 16:19
33

You can actually say "The program erred at line 44", but it's not very idiomatic. "Err" also occurs in the saying "To err is human, to forgive is divine".

If you're looking for the correct idiom, you could say "the program encountered an error at line 44" or "the program hit an error at line 44", etc.

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    I don't think "erring" and "encountering an error" mean the same thing. I would say "the program erred" only if, for example, I asked for the capital of Illinois and it told me "Chicago".
    – Kosmonaut
    Sep 15, 2010 at 21:49
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    @Kosmonaut: It isn't really clear what the program did from the question.
    – delete
    Sep 16, 2010 at 0:00
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    @Shinto: You don't think so? I think the author clarifies what he meant by saying that it can also be called "throwing an error". Also, what would be the use of have a message about a program "erring" on a certain line, if the "error" is not in the computer sense?
    – Kosmonaut
    Sep 16, 2010 at 11:04
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    @Shinto: So, what do you mean when you say "you can actually say X, but it's not very idiomatic"? To me, that means that X is correct, but not common. I think your answer is misleading, particularly for non-native speakers who would be interested in the answer to this question. If you have no desire to defend it, then edit it out.
    – Kosmonaut
    Sep 16, 2010 at 16:20
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    @NobleUplift: "Throwing/encountering an error" has a specific meaning in computing. "Erring" is something else that has much broader application; it simply means "to make a mistake". "Throwing an error" is often not something a program does by mistake. If a program tries to connect to a database and the database is not available and an error is thrown, the program has not erred. So, these terms are not interchangeable, even if in some instances you could use the broader "err".
    – Kosmonaut
    Feb 27, 2014 at 15:27
12

I've seen it enough in computing contexts that I consider it acceptable there. I wouldn't use it in other domains myself, though, except possibly in a geeky tongue-in-cheek way (e.g., "my DVD player errored out on that scratched disk.")

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    We programmers like to misuse words in this way.
    – Umbrella
    Jul 22, 2014 at 20:33
  • I would not describe this as a misuse - in computing jargon, 'to error' is a verb, and 'errored' is naturally the past tense. Hard to say if this will become a general change in usage, or remain jargon of a particular industry.
    – LeBleu
    Apr 28, 2015 at 17:32
  • "to error out" is not the same as "to error", just as "to poop out" is not the same as "to poop". Nov 17, 2018 at 12:43
11

To use "errored" you would have to consider error a verb, but the dictionary doesn't. "Error" is a noun, used to mean mistake. You wouldn't say "The program mistaked at line 44."

Your usage "threw an error" is correct, because it uses error as a noun.

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    I have two problems with this answer. One is that lots of nouns become verbed, and often the new coining is immediately understandable (viz Calvin and Hobbes: "Verbing weirds language"). Two, dictionaries don't contain all possible words or all possible uses of words. Sep 15, 2010 at 15:56
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    A lot of nouns are indeed used as verbs and the English language is dying horribly as a result. We don't need to add to the problem if we can avoid it. Sep 15, 2010 at 16:21
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    I regard it as a great strength of English that it is not afraid to use nouns as adjectives or verbs, verb forms as nouns or adjectives, interjections as nouns, etc. Not every language is anywhere as flexible. I think we should embrace or at least accept such peculiarities rather than fight them.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 15, 2010 at 19:59
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    I agree with Mr. Shiny and New. Here's a nice article on verbing. And no, the language is not dying—it's completely alive and kicking, even more so due to this phenomenon.
    – Jonik
    Sep 15, 2010 at 20:17
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    Just because English frequently allows verbing, doesn't mean it always does. Not every noun can be used as a verb and still be considered "correct." Sep 17, 2010 at 3:06
6

You may choose one of the following options:

  • The program returned an error at line 44
  • The program generated an error at line 44
  • The program encountered an error at line 44
  • The program reached an error at line 44
  • The program gave an error at line 44
2
  • Also thrown. Apr 13, 2012 at 9:00
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    @abatishchev - FWIW, in the (past simple) examples given in this answer, thrown is incorrect... threw would be correct. Jul 6, 2015 at 20:44
3

Within programming circles, I'd say that "errored" is a perfectly fine term to use. It seems to be fairly widely understood as a verb form for "error". Outside of computing, I'd probably avoid it. You generally won't hear someone say "Todd errored on his test". It's a field-specific bit of terminology.

That being said, while discussing things within the field of computing, I'd prefer "the program errored/failed/crashed" over "erred", as some others have suggested. Any of those would be concise and make sense.

I would also prefer the options above over "The program threw an error" in informal settings, simply for the fact that it's less wordy, unless the focus of the statement was how exactly the program did the throwing. In technical documents, "threw an error" might be preferable to "errored".

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    "The program threw an error" (or an exception) is to me more specific while not being inordinately wordy. "Errored" sounds like non-native speech.
    – Robusto
    Apr 8, 2012 at 13:02
  • I suppose it depends on who you're talking to. I'm a native speaker and it sounds fine to me, but I know several people (myself included) who have a propensity to "verb words" as described in the Calvin and Hobbes comic linked above.
    – KChaloux
    Apr 10, 2012 at 12:28
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    Verbing nouns (a.k.a. conversion) is common in English. This particular case sounds to me like something a non-native speaker would say.
    – Robusto
    Apr 10, 2012 at 12:31
  • +1 This is common computer jargon, but I wouldn't use it outside the field. Aug 25, 2015 at 20:58
1

You can say

the program threw an error

though I'd be more inclined to use "caused", as "threw" sounds a little odd (though it is used in the context of exceptions in C++).

(You might also want to provide a more information than merely saying that an error has occurred!)

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    "threw" is used in the context of any language that has exceptions (Java, Python, C++, etc) ... personally, I use "errored" quite frequently (and not just in my professional field)
    – warren
    Sep 16, 2010 at 2:27
0

Yes, some programmers use it. Yes, particularly non-native English speakers (IME). And yes, usage rules! There's no English Academy judging. Check back in 20 years, to see how comfortable it seems to you then.

But no, it's generally not the best way to express what's meant. A better way, about as succinct, and easier to parse: "raises an error" and "raised an error", instead of "errors" and "errored".

Just "errors" can interfere with easy understanding (parsing), because of possible interpretation as the noun.

-3

Personally, I prefer to say "the program failed at line 44", although I really like "the program erred at line 44" as suggested by Shinto Sherlock above :).

-4

Outside of the context of computer programs. errored is common expression in legal documents. For example, "We find the lower court erred in finding Larry Flint guilty of causing undue pain and suffering of Jerry Falwell"

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    lawyers love inventing new ways of saying simple things to make it seem fancy. I'm pretty sure that most legal documents would say "erred," not "errored." Sep 17, 2010 at 3:07
  • @Joel. 1. bows 2. Good point. Fixed. The spelling is different but the intent is the same and therefore I'm leaving it as an answer. Sep 17, 2010 at 5:06

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