Heir vs err

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Heir  and err are commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words heir and err, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

An heir is someone legally entitled to property or a title upon a certain person’s demise. Heir may also be used figuratively to refer to someone who carries on a the tradition or legacy of a predecessor. The h in heir is not pronounced; the word is derived from the Old French word, oir, which means successor or heritage.

Err means to make a mistake, to commit an error, to miscalculate, to go against accepted standards, or to do something wrong or frowned upon. Related words are errs, erred, erring. The word err is derived from the Old English word, ierre, which means straying.


Fashion heir Paola Fendi married Aram Ahmed over the weekend in an elegant ceremony in Ibiza. (New York Post)

Osaka is the obvious heir to Williams, but that will mean she has to start playing in tournaments. (Globe and Mail)

Err on the side of caution and seek emergency care if there is reason to believe they are experiencing something other than a seizure. (Medical News Today)

Thoughtful of you to honor FDNY Bravest but you seemed to err in both the description and name of the gallant Lt. Michael J. Conboy, Rescue Company 3, who received the Dr. Harry M. Archer Medal for Valor. (New York Daily News)