When things are out of their proper places or not happening the way they should, we say they are amiss. Sherlock Holmes, like many sharp detectives, would quickly notice when something was amiss at a crime scene.

The word amiss can be used as an adverb, as in the sentence, "I spoke amiss." Or you could use it as an adjective, as when you think something is wrong or missing — "Something in the room is amiss." Either way, amiss refers to something that is wrong, off the mark, or "missed." Once in a while, the word amiss can imply that something fishy or foul has taken place. In Hamlet, when Marcellus said, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," he might as well have said, "Something in Denmark is amiss."

Definitions of amiss
  1. adverb
    in an improper or mistaken or unfortunate manner
    “if you think him guilty you judge amiss
    “he spoke amiss
    “no one took it amiss when she spoke frankly”
  2. adverb
    in an imperfect or faulty way
    “"Miss Bennet would not play at all amiss if she practiced more"- Jane Austen”
    synonyms: imperfectly
    see moresee less
    ideally, perfectly
    in a perfect or faultless way
  3. adverb
    away from the correct or expected course
    “something went badly amiss in the preparations”
    synonyms: awry
  4. adjective
    not functioning properly
    “something is amiss
    synonyms: awry, haywire, wrong
    malfunctioning, nonfunctional
    not performing or able to perform its regular function
Word Family

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