slip of the tongue

slip of the tongue
also, slip of the pen


  • a mistake in speech (or writing)
  • an error in speaking in which the speaker says something unintentionally
  • an unintentional mistake in one’s writing, such as incorrect spelling, choice of words, or meaning
  • a mistake made while speaking, and it is usually done unintentionally
  • an unintentional mistake in a person’s writing, such as wrong spelling, choice of words, or meaning

Example Sentences

  1. The election bill was altered, by what I believe was a slip of the pen.
  2. I called her boyfriend, my ex’s name. I hope she doesn’t take any slight, it was a slip of the tongue.
  3. I had no intention of saying that to her, it was a slip of the tongue.
  4. Slipping of the tongue may put you in trouble someday.
  5. During the speech, one slip of the tongue spoiled the image of a great leader.


A slip of the pen was first reported to be used in the 1650s by a British man. He’d written a letter professing his unending love for Lady Catherine, his love interest. On opening the letter, she saw that he’d signed off the letter with the words “Within Love” instead of “With Love.” When Lady Catherine related this to him days later, he’d laughed and said, “Oh, it was just a slip of the pen.” Those around loved the expression and it caught on, and years later, around 1725, its sister phrase a slip of the tongue began to become more popular, as people also made mistakes while speaking not just while writing.

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