What does “amiss” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The word “amiss” is seen four times in the King James Bible, whose references we now read:

  • 2 Chronicles 6:37: “Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;….”
  • Daniel 3:29: “Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”
  • Luke 23:41: “And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.”
  • James 4:3: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

Using these passages, we can begin by surmising “amiss” is a negative word. Chronicles equates it with sin or wickedness. In Daniel, it is presented with the term “against” (as in malicious words used to slander someone). Luke records the repentant crucified thief faulting the unbelieving crucified thief: whereas they are both suffering the Roman death penalty for their crimes, innocent Jesus, who has done nothing “amiss,” has been placed on a cross between them. Although James is rather vague as to its meaning (he is addressing unanswered—yea, rather “amiss”—prayer), enough information has been supplied in the earlier passages to give us a general idea of the definition.

Luke’s Greek word is “atopos,” literally meaning “out of place,” whereas James employs “kakos” or “evil.” Moving into English, “amiss” is from the Middle English “amis,” composed of “a–” for “any [as in a single item]” and “mis” for “wrong.” Therefore, “amiss” is another way of saying “improper,” “wrong,” “incorrect,” “astray,” or “faulty.”

Also see:
» What does “churlish” mean?
» What does “noisome” mean?
» What does “ado” mean?
» What does “subvert” mean?