AN ERRAND is a short trip to fulfill some small business. When you’re running errands, you’re making a bunch of these all at once. If you run an errand for someone, you do or get something for them.
“Sorry I can’t see you now I have to run errands.”
“She was forever running errands for her housebound grandmother.”
You can spent the morning running household errands – to the cleaners, the supermarket, the hardware store, getting a prescription filled, filling the car with fuel, taking sacks of leaves to the compost center, etc.
“I got an errand to run. Be back in a couple hours.”
It can refer to the mission of the trip itself. If the lines are always long at the bank then banking may be your least favorite errand.
“The errand I dislike is going to the post office. It seems like every time I go there is a line out the door and it moves so slowly.”
Errand has the connotation of something of minor importance that can be carried out by anyone. A boy employed in a shop or office to make deliveries and run other errands is AN ERRAND BOY.
“He worked his way up from errand boy to regional sales manager.”
The term is often used figuratively for someone who is in the lowest rank of an organization. An employee might complain of being an errand boy if all they’re allowed to do is unimportant work.
“I’m but an errand boy in the Foreign Service.” (the lowest rank)
It is also used to criticize people by suggesting that they are controlled by someone more powerful.
“The governor is nothing more than an errand boy for the big companies.”
GO ON A FOOL’S ERRAND means to set out to accomplish something that turns out to be impossible to accomplish; a pointless undrtaking. Similar to going on fool’s errand is going on a wild goose chase.
“Asking the bank for yet another loan was clearly a fool’s errand.”