What Does Comedy of Errors Mean?

Comedy of Errors Meaning

Definition: A series of humorous or disastrous events.

Origin of Comedy of Errors

This expression comes from the title of one of William Shakespeare’s plays, written in the year 1600.

In this play, two brothers are separated at birth and experience many amusing mix ups when they arrive in the same location by chance.

Examples of Comedy of Errors

shakespeare comedy of errorsThe dialogue below shows two friends talking about online dating experiences.

Giuseppe: I’ve had some pretty bad experiences using dating apps.

May: Well, I can guarantee you that none of your experiences were as bad as the one I had last week.

Giuseppe: Oh yeah? What happened?

May: I had arranged to meet someone for a date, but we hadn’t ever met before. Also, I guess we weren’t the only couple that had never met and was meeting at that restaurant. So, I approached the person who looked like my date, and it seemed like he was expecting me.

Giuseppe: And it was the wrong guy?

May: Yep! And my date met the wrong guy’s date, and they sat together and ate. None of us had any idea about the mix up. But, we were a horrible match, and the whole evening got worse and worse. It was a comedy of errors.

Giuseppe: How did you figure it out?

May: Eventually, I said his name, and he told me that it wasn’t him.

the comedy of errors shakespeareIn the dialogue below, a father and his daughter use the expression while talking about their dog’s bad behavior.

Rafal: What’s the matter? You look exhausted.

Vesna: I just got back from the pet store. My dog somehow escaped from her leash.

Rafal: Oh no! What did she do?

Vesna: She ran amuck throughout the whole store, causing chaos. It was truly a comedy of errors. She knocked over an aquarium, she set free a bunch of birds, all the employees and customers were chasing her and no one could catch her.

Rafal: How did you finally catch her?

Vesna: She got stuck in a shelf trying to pull out one of the biggest bones they sold.

More Examples

This excerpt is about an athletic event that went badly.

  • The sold-out crowd of 84,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium left deflated and even puzzled as the regulation-time shootout between Kirk Cousins and Andy Dalton turned into an overtime comedy of errors.  –Houston Chronicle

The second excerpt is also about a sporting event that had multiple things go wrong.

  • The game was halted for about 45 minutes — a holdup that included a full intermission — after a shot by Colorado’s Eric Gelinas midway through the second period broke a portion of the glass behind the Ducks’ net and led to a comedy of errors as the operations crew tried to replace it. –Denver Post

Summary

The phrase a comedy of errors describes a situation that is funny because of all the confusion or incompetence.

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