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Amiss vs Astray

Amiss and Astray share the meaning wrong or otherwise than intended.

Amiss implies failure (as of an arrow) to reach the mark aimed at and frequently suggests a shortcoming or defect (as by failure to reach a standard, an expectation, a definite conclusion, or the point of being useful).

  • his shafts of wit went amiss
  • she seemed unconcerned, as though nothing had happened amiss
  • no information came amiss to him

Sometimes amiss suggests a divergence from the normal or usual order.

  • whether his general health had been previously at all amiss
  • “What’s amiss in the Square?” . . . “Just now I saw a man running along Wedge wood Street”

Astray emphasizes wandering from a predetermined path or the right way or course; it usually suggests moral or intellectual errancy.

  • lest in temptation’s path ye gang astray
  • in many an hour when judgment goes astray