An oversight is a mistake you make when you're not paying full attention. Your failure to add the sugar to the cookies was an unfortunate oversight — you were so engrossed in texting that you forgot it.

Oversights are not intentional mistakes. Usually they're just the result of inattention. If you make an oversight in your inspection of a nuclear power plant and it later goes into meltdown, you'll get fired. An inspector is supposed to pay attention. But if you forgot your cousin's birthday because you're busy taking care of Grandma, that's a forgivable oversight. Oversight is also the act of supervising something, like the construction of a dam, or a high school prom.

Definitions of oversight
  1. noun
    an unintentional omission resulting from failure to notice something
    synonyms: inadvertence
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    type of:
    neglecting to do something; leaving out or passing over something
  2. noun
    a mistake resulting from inattention
    synonyms: lapse
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    type of:
    error, fault, mistake
    a wrong action attributable to bad judgment or ignorance or inattention
  3. noun
    management by overseeing the performance or operation of a person or group
    synonyms: superintendence, supervising, supervision
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    keeping watch over examination candidates to prevent cheating
    type of:
    direction, management
    the act of managing something
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘oversight'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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