What's the reason for writing あやまち 過ち and not for instance 誤ち ? Wouldn't that make more sense since it means to err, be incorrect...? I can see how one would get from exceeding/overdoing a mistake, but really, isn't 誤 the better fit here?

Is there perhaps some historical reason or anything that could explain it?

  • 過 is a character which had already long meant mistake, fault in Chinese, if that helps, e.g. 過失.
    – dROOOze
    Feb 7 '21 at 9:27

You can actually write it in both ways, and they will mean slightly different things.

過ち will imply error in moral judgement. 誤ち will imply accidental mistakes.

So it's better to write 過去の過ちを責めてはいけない rather than 過去の誤ちを責めてはいけない because in this case, you are not talking about accidental mistakes. Similary, it's better to write 計算を誤った than 計算を過った.

  • I was just starting to read up on the matter, and to my surprise you really can write it both ways. I've just never seen it written 誤ち and IME doesn't even offer that spelling so I presumed it didn't exist...how naive of me. Thanks for the explanation, saved me about 20 minutes of deciphering the japanese. Feb 7 '21 at 10:50

過ち = your past mistake
誤ち = now mistake; normally used in text or books, not in conversation

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