What Does To 'Err Is Human To Forgive Divine' Mean?


2 Answers

Joe McHugh Profile
Joe McHugh answered
This is an idiom, and as many idioms do, it is meant to give out little snippets of advice and wisdom. To err, is an archaic way of saying to make a mistake, or to do something wrong, so the first part of this idiom is saying that is a human trait to make mistakes or to get things wrong.

The second part of the saying refers to the Divine, which is a way of describing God, or something that is godly, so it is telling us that if you are able to forgive the human mistakes of someone else then you are behaving in a godly manner because it is usually recognised that God is all forgiving.

An idiom is a saying that cannot be taken literally; instead, we are expected to translate it into what it really means. For example, if it was said that someone had ‘dug his own grave’, most English speakers would understand that this was an idiom being used to describe someone who has got himself into a lot of trouble from which he can’t get out.

Idioms can be found in many languages and are used to express an opinion or describe an event as succinctly as possible; thus avoiding long descriptions.

Very often idioms can evolve from jargon. Office-speak has become the butt of many jokes with jargon like ‘wake up and smell the coffee’; ‘joined up thinking’; and ‘blue sky thinking’ but these phrases have leaked into everyday speech that the majority of people understand and so have become idioms.

Because idioms are such an integral part of the language with the majority of us not realising how often we use them, it makes it difficult for people who are learning a second language to fully understand the complexities of that language.
Aun Jafery Profile
Aun Jafery answered
The phrase to "err is human, to forgive divine" is an idiom which is widely used in the English language. To understand it better it is better to split the idiom in two. The first part to err is human means that every single person is fallible and bound to make mistakes, including ourselves. Err here refers to doing something that is wrong.

The second half of the phrase refers to the act of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a trait of God as God is seen as being merciful. It is this divine mercy that is being called upon here. The phrase is actually conveying that all people will sin and that it is Godly to forgive those that wrong us. An example of its use practically is, "your father deprived you of opportunity but let it go, to err is human to forgive divine".

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