arrant / errant

If you?re unsure of the difference between these words, don?t feel bad. Arrant was once a variant spelling of errant, which meant and still means ?wandering.? Thus an errant (or an arrant) thief was a bandit who roved the countryside. It was not a far stretch from this use to the meaning ?notorious, outright, thoroughgoing,? which is the meaning that arrant developed and kept. Now if you wander and rove, you can only be errant. And if you want an intensive adjective to add spice to insults, you want arrant. An arrant fool is a complete one.    1