Let's say you're cross-referencing two tables of information and you find a value that is not the same in both tables, but appears like it should be. How would you express the quality of this find? It's only an error if you assume that the values should be the same, but based on your limited context it may turn out that they are supposed to be different. It's a possible error or inconsistency. How would you express that?

  • 1
    Some data are labelled as 'anomalies' which are later proved to be either errors in documentation or real results that are inconsistent to expectations or even true readings that disprove the hypothesis.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 17:35
  • Sorry, shoe; that has vastly less to do with English however general than with data processing. As you said, "It's only an error if you assume that the values should be the same, but based on your limited context it may turn out that they are supposed to be different" and that simply means you need to describe the context more clearly. Most obviously, please specify exactly what you mean by "appears like it should be" in this case? Until then what would be wrong with "suspect, please? Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 20:45

4 Answers 4


How about a discrepancy?

"I found a discrepancy in the data." You are not implying error, just calling to attention that it needs review.

Sorry, I can't comment (not enough rep) so had to submit this as an answer.


I believe "I think there might be a issue with this field" would be correct, sorry, for not commenting, but I don't have enough rep.

  • 1
    Your suggestions are all synonyms for error. Unfortunately alone, they do not imply that the error/inconsistency is possible but not certain.
    – MBorg
    Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 12:43

I tried looking in online dictionaries and synonym finders, and couldn't find a single word meaning "possible error." A possible error or possible inconsistency are still good ways to describe it; it's only one word extra!

If you really wanted to describe the value's quality in one word, you could say either:

  • the value's quality was questionable.
  • the value's quality was dubious

Or you could state that there may have been an error, which describes it in one word as an "error," but adds a word like "may" to imply ambiguity. In a sentence, that could read as:

These values differed between the two tables; we suspect this may have been an error.


The term "suspect value" is used in statistics for items which fall outside the spread of most of the other data (usually differing from the mean by more than the Standard Deviation). I couldn't find a definition online but I found a number of statistics sites which used the term such as this one and this one. If your tables contain experimental data then "suspect value" would be a good choice.

  • 'Suspect value' would seem to have the same number of words as 'possible error'. More than one. And I know which I'd choose. Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 15:54
  • @EdwinAshworth The OP didn't specify a single word answer, I thought he was just looking for alternatives, particularly ones which were accepted in the field
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 14:24
  • "What is a word for a possible error?" seems pretty clear to me. Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 16:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.