I'm trying to organise a series of items, depending on whether these are known, unknown or known incorrectly to the observer.

I don't like the "know incorrectly" formulation. Is there a single word describing this?

PS: it seems the question was unclear. I am referring here to "known" as in "recognised". So I am categorising the objects as "recognised", "unrecognised" or "incorrectly recognised". (eg. you see the Eiffel Tower and shout "Look! The Bamiyan Buddha is still standing!")

  • Can you give an example of "knowing incorrectly" - is it identifying an item wrong (by mistake), or telling a lie about the item or soemthing else?
    – JoseK
    Aug 8, 2011 at 12:59
  • I mean "something that the observer believes to know, but recognised wrongly". Aug 8, 2011 at 13:18

5 Answers 5



To mistake the identity.


  1. (psychology, computing) To recognize in error This process of misrecognizing one's self in the image in the mirror creates the ego, the entity that says 'I.'

  2. (sociology) To deliberately fail to recognize, or pretend to do so When people did participate in blat practice, they misrecognized their actions through narratives of friendship.

  • 1
    I like this! :) Aug 8, 2011 at 13:42

How about misrecognized from

misrecognize (Wiktionary)

  1. (psychology, computing) To recognize in error.
  2. (sociology) To deliberately fail to recognize, or pretend to do so.

misrecognize (Oxford)

  1. mistake the identity of.

or misidentified from

misidentify (Wiktionary)

  1. To mistake the identity.

misidentify (Oxford)

  1. identify (something or someone) incorrectly.
  • 2
    Note to self: press [Save] immediately after having a draft answer, do formatting afterwards :)
    – oleschri
    Aug 9, 2011 at 11:24

You may be looking for misunderstanding:

mis·un·der·stand·ing (msn-dr-stndng) n.
1. A failure to understand or interpret correctly.

Synonyms are misapprehension and mistake.

  • I doubt it can be said of an object that it is "misunderstood" if its observer fails to recognise it. Aug 8, 2011 at 13:19
  • @Benjamin: Sure it can, as perhaps you misunderstood my answer as failing to apply to the situation you describe. Or I may have misunderstood your question. Either way, what we appear to have now is a misunderstanding.
    – Robusto
    Aug 8, 2011 at 13:26


a mistaken belief, a wrong idea

There are several common misconceptions about the theory of relativity.
You're obviously under the misconception that I care about your problems.
  • I think the word would not apply to my situation. Objects are shown on pictures and are not recognised as what they are but mistaken for something else. I sense that misconception would be the same situation, but without the pictures, ie. on a conceptual level only. What do you think? Aug 8, 2011 at 13:40

misknow (v. t.):

To have a misconception of
To have a mistaken notion of or about.

You can use misknown or misinterpreted.

  • I didn't know miskown existed. It comes handy :) Aug 8, 2011 at 13:40
  • @Benjamin: even though this exists in a dictionary, this is pretty rare (do a Google Ngram on it and pretty much any other word), and pretty opaque to a modern listener (myself).
    – Mitch
    Aug 8, 2011 at 16:39

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