Standard Error

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DEFINITION of 'Standard Error'

The standard deviation of the sampling distribution of a statistic. Standard error is a statistical term that measures the accuracy with which a sample represents a population. In statistics, a sample mean deviates from the actual mean of a population; this deviation is the standard error.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Standard Error'

The term "standard error" is used to refer to the standard deviation of various sample statistics such as the mean or median. For example, the "standard error of the mean" refers to the standard deviation of the distribution of sample means taken from a population.


The smaller the standard error, the more representative the sample will be of the overall population. The standard error is also inversely proportional to the sample size; the larger the sample size, the smaller the standard error because the statistic will approach the actual value.

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