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Exception vs. Error: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 31, 2024
An exception is an unusual condition requiring special handling, while an error is a mistake or incorrect result.

Key Differences

Exception refers to a condition that disrupts the normal flow of a program, prompting special handling. Error, on the other hand, generally indicates a problem that causes a program to fail. Both are types of issues in programming or logical sequences but differ in their nature and handling.
In programming, an exception is often an object or condition that can be caught and managed within the program's logic. An error usually signifies a more serious problem, often hardware-related or a fundamental flaw in logic, that typically can't be resolved by the program itself. Both concepts are integral to robust software design, each addressing different levels of program disruption.
Exceptions are often expected or anticipated disruptions that can be planned for in a program’s code. Errors, in contrast, are often unexpected and indicate a deeper issue, sometimes beyond the programmer’s control. Both require different strategies for identification and resolution.
Exceptions can be specific to the context of a program, like a file not found, while an error is more universal, like a syntax error in code. Both can halt program execution, but exceptions are generally more recoverable compared to errors.
Handling exceptions usually involves try-catch blocks in programming, allowing the program to continue running after addressing the issue. Errors, especially runtime errors, often lead to program crashes or termination. Both are critical for developers to understand for effective debugging and program stability.

Comparison Chart


An anomaly in a standard process
A mistake or incorrect judgment

Usage in Sentences

Often used to describe exclusions or deviations
Commonly refers to inaccuracies or faults


Can be neutral, depending on context
Generally negative, implying a fault

Grammatical Role

Commonly a noun; sometimes used in phrases like "with the exception of"
Primarily a noun; used to denote something wrong or inaccurate

Associated Phrases

"Make an exception," "exception to the rule"
"Error in judgment," "trial and error"

Exception and Error Definitions


A deviation from the rule or usual occurrence.
Everyone must attend the meeting, with no exception.


A mistake in calculation, action, or judgment.
An error in the software caused the system to crash.


An exclusion in a statement or rule.
The dress code applies to all staff, with the exception of the design team.


A deviation from accuracy or correctness.
The report was full of factual errors.


A case to which a rule does not apply.
In this grammar rule, there are several exceptions.


A misconception or misunderstanding.
His decision was based on an error of judgment.


A legal term denoting an objection.
The lawyer filed an exception to the witness's testimony.


A flaw or fault in a system or process.
The experiment failed due to a human error.


A special case worthy of attention.
Her talent is an exception in our school.


A wrong action attributable to bad judgment.
Leaving her phone unlocked was an error on her part.


The act of excepting or the condition of being excepted; exclusion.


An act, assertion, or belief that unintentionally deviates from what is correct, right, or true.


One that is excepted, especially a case that does not conform to a rule or generalization.


The condition of having incorrect or false knowledge.


Are all errors negative?

Generally, errors are seen negatively as they indicate mistakes or faults.

Is an error always a sign of failure?

Not always; errors can be part of learning processes like "trial and error."

How are exceptions handled in programming?

Exceptions are managed using try-catch blocks in programming to prevent program crashes.

Are errors always due to human fault?

Errors can be due to human mistakes or system faults.

Can exceptions be positive?

Yes, exceptions can be neutral or positive, depending on the context.

What is an exception in general terms?

An exception is a deviation from the norm or standard procedure.

How is error different from exception?

An error is a mistake or inaccuracy, while an exception is more about deviations or exclusions from a rule.

Is it possible to have an exception to an exception?

Yes, complex rules can have exceptions to exceptions.

Are errors always avoidable?

Not all errors are avoidable, especially those due to unforeseen circumstances.

Can exceptions be anticipated?

Yes, exceptions can often be anticipated and planned for, especially in programming.

What is a common phrase using 'exception'?

"The exception proves the rule" is a common phrase.

Is 'error' used in legal terms?

Yes, 'error' is used in legal contexts to describe mistakes in proceedings or judgment.

How do exceptions affect decision-making?

Exceptions can complicate or influence the decision-making process.

Do exceptions and errors differ culturally?

The interpretation and tolerance of exceptions and errors can vary across cultures.

What role does error play in learning?

Errors are often integral to the learning process, helping identify areas for improvement.

How does language use the term 'error'?

In language, 'error' often denotes mistakes in speech, writing, or understanding.

Can exceptions be part of a strategy?

Yes, exceptions can be strategically used in various contexts.

Can technology reduce the occurrence of errors?

Technology can minimize but not completely eliminate errors.

Is there a psychological aspect to exceptions?

Yes, psychologically, exceptions can influence perceptions and expectations.

Are there famous quotes about errors?

Yes, such as "To err is human" which highlights the commonality of mistakes.
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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