* (l) (obsolete)
Straying from the proper course or standard, or outside established limits.
* Sir Thomas Browne
Prone to making errors.
(proscribed) Utter, complete (negative); arrant.
* Ben Jonson
- seven planets or errant stars in the lower orbs of heaven
- would make me an errant fool
Sometimes is considered simply an alternative spelling and pronunciation of errant', though many authorities distinguish them, reserving '''errant''' to mean “wandering” and using it ''after'' the noun it modifies, notably is “knight '''errant ”, while using ''arrant'' to mean “utter”, in a negative sense, and ''before'' the noun it modifies, notably in “''arrant knaves”.
Etymologically, arrant arose as a variant of errant , but the meanings have long since diverged. Both terms are archaic, primarily used in set phrases (which may be considered ), and are easily confused, and on that basis some authorities suggest against using either.
arrant/errant”, Common Errors in English Usage, Paul Brians
On Language: Arrant Nonsense, (William Safire), January 22, 2006, (New York Times)
* Merriam–Webster’s dictionary of English usage, 1995,
“errant, arrant”, pp. 406–407
Exceptional, conspicuous, outstanding, most usually in a negative fashion.
* 16thC , ,
- The student has made egregious errors on the examination.
* c1605 , , Act 2, Scene 3,
- I cannot cross my arms, or sigh "Ah me," / "Ah me forlorn!" egregious foppery! / I cannot buss thy fill, play with thy hair, / Swearing by Jove, "Thou art most debonnaire!"
* 22 March 2012 , Scott Tobias, AV Club The Hunger Games [http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-hunger-games,71293/]
- My lord, you give me most egregious indignity.
Outrageously bad; shocking.
- When the goal is simply to be as faithful as possible to the material—as if a movie were a marriage, and a rights contract the vow—the best result is a skillful abridgment, one that hits all the important marks without losing anything egregious .
The negative meaning arose in the late 16th century, probably originating in sarcasm. Before that, it meant outstanding in a good way. Webster also gives “distinguished” as an archaic form, and notes that its present form often has an unpleasant connotation (e.g., "an egregious error" ). It generally precedes such epithets as “rogue,” “rascal,” "ass," “blunderer”.