Even if a statement or expression is syntactically correct, it may cause an error when an attempt is made to execute it. Errors detected during execution are called exceptions and are not unconditionally fatal: you will soon learn how to handle them in Python programs. Most exceptions are not handled by programs, however, and result in error messages as shown here:
>>> 10 * (1/0) Traceback (innermost last): File "<stdin>", line 1 ZeroDivisionError: integer division or modulo >>> 4 + spam*3 Traceback (innermost last): File "<stdin>", line 1 NameError: spam >>> '2' + 2 Traceback (innermost last): File "<stdin>", line 1 TypeError: illegal argument type for built-in operation
The last line of the error message indicates what happened. Exceptions come in different types, and the type is printed as part of the message: the types in the example are ZeroDivisionError, NameError and TypeError. The string printed as the exception type is the name of the built-in name for the exception that occurred. This is true for all built-in exceptions, but need not be true for user-defined exceptions (although it is a useful convention). Standard exception names are built-in identifiers (not reserved keywords).
The rest of the line is a detail whose interpretation depends on the exception type; its meaning is dependent on the exception type.
The preceding part of the error message shows the context where the exception happened, in the form of a stack backtrace. In general it contains a stack backtrace listing source lines; however, it will not display lines read from standard input.
The Library Reference lists the built-in exceptions and their meanings.