‘Run Errands’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 17, 2023

Did someone tell you that they’re about to go ‘run errands,’ and now you’re wondering what that meant? In this article, we’ll take a look at the definition and origin of the phrase and provide some examples of how to use the phrase correctly in a sentence.

In short:

  • ‘Run errands’ means to go out and buy things or pay bills.

Essentially, it means to go out and take care of the responsibilities necessary to run your household, which might include picking up groceries or paying the light bill.

What Does ‘Run Errands’ Mean?

‘Run errands’ means to go out and buy the things you need for your household or to pay the bills necessary to keep it running. Running errands might mean going out to pick up groceries, going out to drop off your dry cleaning, picking up cleaning supplies or other household necessities, or paying your light bill.

Errands can also be things like:

  • Sending an email
  • Scheduling an appointment (or going to one)
  • Delivering a package
  • Going to the post office
  • Making a phone call
  • Taking someone somewhere
  • Doing laundry

It can also describe a short trip either to take a message or to take or collect something.

Errands can also be specific to a certain event, like a wedding or a birthday party.

In the movie The Wedding Planner, Mary Fiore (Jennifer Lopez) has a lot of errands to run with each wedding she plans. She has to make sure everything is in order with the flowers, the church, the order of the ceremony, and the wedding party (including the bride and groom).

In the movie 13 Going on 30, Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner) has a bunch of ‘errands’ to run to ensure she can go back to living life as her 13-year-old self after she realizes being 30 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Some of those errands include making things right in her 30-year-old ‘glimpse' of her life.

Where Does ‘Run Errands’ Come From? 

The phrase comes from the Middle English words erande and erende. It also stems from the Old English word aerende and from the Proto-West Germanic word arundi, which means message or errand.

It also has Danish, Swedish, Old Norse, Old High German, and Old Frisian origins.

Originally, it meant ‘short, simple journey and task,’ and it was used as early as the 1640s.

Examples of ‘Run Errands’ in a Sentence 

How would you use ‘run errands’ in a sentence?

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Listen, I wanted to run errands early this morning, and you’re still not ready. Cut bait, or I’m leaving you and going alone.
  • When I texted my sister, ‘what are you doing?’ She replied with ‘about to run errands.’ So, I asked if she wanted me to go with her since I was sitting home bored in the house with nothing to do.
  • When I told my boyfriend that I was going to run errands, his reply was, ‘okie dokie.’ It’s his favorite thing to say whenever I tell him I’m going anywhere or that dinner is ready.
  • I usually run errands on the weekend because I’m always working and too tired during the week. But I really hate going on the weekends because it’s when everyone else goes too, so it’s super crowded everywhere.
  • We have to run errands soon because we’re running out of food – bread, milk, eggs, orange juice, and cheese. Can you go to the store by yourself or do you need me to come with you?
  • When I went out to run errands the other day, I ran into an old friend of mine. We got a chance to catch up at Chipotle before I went back home.
  • My sister doesn’t mind running errands looking unkempt, but I always wear a full face of makeup before I go anywhere. It’s a necessity for me. I can’t have people seeing my bare face.
  • Every time I run errands, I run into someone I know. I see my cousins, my church friends, and sometimes friends from work. I always end up in a long conversation whenever I leave the house.

Other Ways to Say ‘Run Errands’

What other words and phrases convey the same meaning as ‘run errands’?

Here are a few examples:

  • Task
  • Assignment
  • Chore
  • Honey-Do List
  • Go shopping
  • Buy things (household necessities)
  • Buy groceries
  • Complete an errand
  • Do the shopping
  • Make purchases
  • Deliver
  • Go around town and do necessary tasks
  • Arrangements to make
  • Go on an errand
  • Go to perform a commission
  • Acquire
  • Run an errand
  • Run some errands
  • Take a short trip to do a specific thing
  • Be out shopping
  • Go take care of business

Final Advice on ‘Run Errands’

To recap, we learned the following:

In short, ‘run errands’ means to go out and buy things or pay bills.

Essentially, it means to go out and take care of the responsibilities necessary to run your household, which might include picking up groceries or paying the light bill.

If you ever get stuck on usage or meaning, you can always come back and review what you just learned. We’ve got a whole library of content on Idioms you might see as you’re learning the language. Feel free to come back to browse anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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