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Error of Omission vs. Error of Commission: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 19, 2023
An "error of omission" involves neglecting an action or detail, while an "error of commission" means taking an incorrect action.

Key Differences

"Error of omission" and "error of commission" are terms used to describe mistakes or inaccuracies. An error of omission refers to something that was left out or forgotten. For instance, if a financial transaction is not recorded in a company's books, it's an error of omission. On the other hand, an error of commission refers to an action that was taken but shouldn't have been. If an incorrect entry is made in the records, it exemplifies an error of commission.
The underlying distinction between an error of omission and an error of commission is inaction versus action. While errors of omission arise due to inaction, neglect, or oversight, errors of commission result from proactive but mistaken actions.
These concepts are not limited to financial contexts. In daily life, if someone forgets to send an invitation for an event, it's an error of omission. Conversely, if someone mistakenly invites the wrong person, it's an error of commission. Both types of errors can have varying consequences depending on the situation.
Understanding the difference between these two errors is essential in several fields, especially in finance, healthcare, and law. For example, in medicine, an error of omission might involve failing to prescribe a necessary medication, whereas an error of commission might involve administering the wrong dose.
Both errors of omission and errors of commission require vigilance to avoid. Proper checks and balances, attention to detail, and thorough reviews can help prevent such mistakes in various settings.

Comparison Chart


Inaction or forgetting.
Incorrect action taken.


Neglect or oversight.
Proactive but mistaken action.

Common Contexts

Financial records, event planning.
Medicine dosages, incorrect data entry.


Something is left out.
An unwanted or unnecessary action occurs.

Correction Method

Adding the missing action or detail.
Reversing or rectifying the incorrect action.

Error of Omission and Error of Commission Definitions

Error of Omission

A mistake from not doing something.
His error of omission was not including the tax in the total cost.

Error of Commission

A mistake from doing something incorrectly.
His error of commission was entering the wrong password multiple times.

Error of Omission

A failure due to inaction.
The scientist's error of omission was not recording the last experiment's results.

Error of Commission

Undertaking something that should've been avoided.
Her error of commission was adding salt twice to the recipe.

Error of Omission

An oversight leading to neglect.
The error of omission in the report was the missing data from March.

Error of Commission

Proactive actions that lead to unintended outcomes.
The pilot's error of commission was pressing the wrong button during the test flight.

Error of Omission

Forgetting a necessary action or detail.
An error of omission in cooking can result in missing ingredients.

Error of Commission

Taking a wrong or unnecessary action.
The accountant's error of commission involved wrongly categorizing an expense.

Error of Omission

Missing out on required information or steps.
The procedure had an error of omission by skipping a critical safety check.

Error of Commission

An active mistake in a process or task.
His error of commission in the game was shooting at the wrong target.


Which error involves inaction?

An error of omission involves inaction or forgetting.

What is an error of omission?

An error of omission involves neglecting to take a necessary action or forgetting a detail.

If I record a transaction under the wrong account, what error have I made?

That would be an error of commission.

If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication, what error is it?

That's an error of commission.

Are these terms used outside of finance?

Yes, they apply in various fields like healthcare, law, and everyday situations.

Which error results from oversight?

An error of omission often results from oversight.

Can these errors be intentional?

While they typically refer to unintentional mistakes, intentional acts can sometimes be categorized this way, especially in fraud cases.

Can both errors occur in a single task?

Yes, a task can have both errors of omission and commission.

In bookkeeping, if I omit a financial entry, which error have I made?

You've made an error of omission.

Which is worse: error of omission or error of commission?

Neither is inherently worse; the impact depends on the specific situation and consequences.

In medical terms, if a doctor fails to diagnose a condition, what error is it?

It's an error of omission.

How can errors of omission be rectified?

By adding or performing the missing action or detail.

If I record an expense as income, which error is it?

That's an error of commission.

What is an error of commission?

An error of commission involves taking an incorrect or unnecessary action.

If I forget to record a transaction, which error is it?

That would be an error of omission.

Which error can be due to misinformation?

An error of commission can arise from misinformation.

Is forgetting to add an ingredient while cooking an error of commission or omission?

It's an error of omission.

If I mistakenly added pepper instead of sugar, what error is that?

That's an error of commission.

Which error is about "doing" something incorrectly?

That's an error of commission.

How can one correct an error of commission?

By reversing or rectifying the incorrect action taken.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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