Unforced Error

What is an unforced error?

An easily-avoidable mistake

An unforced error is a mistake a person made because they were careless, unfocused, or inattentive. This slang term is primarily used while discussing sports, to describe a misplay that a baseball, tennis, or badminton player could have avoided. Social media users may also use unforced error to describe mistakes made by companies, governments, celebrities, and politicians.

Where did unforced error originate?

Unforced error originated as and is still most popularly used as tennis slang. The term was coined in the 1920s, but it did not become popular until the 1970s and 80s. In 1982, Information and Display Systems began tracking players' unforced errors within their first-of-its-kind computerized tennis statistics system.

What are some example unforced errors?

The most common unforced error in tennis is double faulting on a serve. The serving player is in complete control of their serve and, theoretically, should always be able to avoid double faulting. They are never "forced" to double fault - thus double faulting is an "unforced" error. Other unforced errors include hitting easy shots on the wrong part of the racket, too early, or too late.

What is an example of a non-sports unforced error?

U.S. presidential candidates often commit unforced errors. For example, if a U.S. presidential candidate planned to visit a Wisconsin farm, but at the last minute changed their mind and visited a manufacturing hub instead, those who were hoping the candidate would court the agricultural vote may describe the change as an unforced error.

Example

"He just forgot Valentine's Day? That's an unforced error of the highest magnitude."
Social media users love to label actions as unforced errors

Social media users love to label actions as unforced errors

Related Slang

Usage

Last Updated: July 29, 2021

Unforced error definition

This page explains what the slang term "Unforced error" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slangit team.

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