I know that "concatenation of events" is used in the English language, I therefore wonder whether "concatenation of errors", a direct translation of the German "Aneinanderreihung von Fehlern" is appropriate as well.

Example: "The large deviation from the theoretical value is caused by a concatenation of errors, in particular by [...]"

  • 1
    I'd suggest using "accumulation of errors" or the total "accumulated error" instead. (that's the phrase used in error estimation) Jan 30, 2021 at 12:39
  • No evidence from a Google search? Or from Google ngrams? Something you won't find easily is that 'succession of errors' might be a slightly more common phrase. 'Series of errors' is more common still, but doesn't have the 'interconnected' emphasis to the same degree. LSJ's suggestion is best in scholarly writing. Jan 30, 2021 at 12:43
  • I would have thought the "idiomatic standard" here is a cascade of errors. But actually, according to Google NGrams, accumulation is more common (still, but slowly losing ground). Jan 30, 2021 at 13:19
  • @FumbleFingers I think "cascade" sounds a bit too unscientific. Accumulation is a good alternative though! Edwin Ahworth you are correct, a google search did not help. I did not know about ngram though, thanks
    – user413136
    Jan 30, 2021 at 16:42
  • "cascade errors" are a very familiar concept (and term) in the context of software development. When I started programming in the Civil Service over 50 years ago, we did everything on punch cards that were loaded and run by the computer operators overnight. I had just one trivial syntax error in my Cobol program (a missing full stop after the section heading "DATA DIVISION"), but this caused every single line of code after that to generate a great many "cascade errors". When I came to work the next day, I was presented with 2 whole boxes of listing paper full of meaningless errors! Jan 30, 2021 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


Concatenation = a series of events, ideas, or things that are connected

Cambridge dictionary

P G Wodehouse uses the word. Here is one example from The Catnappers:

“What are those things circumstances have, Jeeves?” I said.


“You know what I mean. You talk of a something of circumstances which leads to something. Cats enter into it, if I’m not wrong.”

“Would concatenation be the word you are seeking?”

“That’s right. It was on the tip of my tongue. Do concatenations of circumstances arise?”

“Yes, sir.”

Wodehouse refers to circumstances that lead to something. It is also appropriate to refer to errors in the same way, errors merely being a special sort of circumstance.

The root of the word is in the Latin catena, a chain. This idea of sequential connection of the links in the chain lies behind the idea that the sequencing of events or circumstances is important in leading to the eventual outcome. The same idea is in your German word, something like “one after the other sequence”.

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