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at cross-purposes

This page is about the idiom at cross-purposes


If you're at cross-purposes with someone, you think you're both talking about the same thing but you're actually talking about different things.

For example

  • I was talking to Kyle about Georgia, but we were at cross-purposes. I was talking about Georgia in Russia, and he was talking about Georgia in the U.S.A. We laughed when we realised we were talking about two different "Georgias".

  • Jill and I were at cross-purposes today when we were talking about John. I was talking about John Smith, my neighbour, but she thought I was talking John at work!

Quick Quiz

I was chatting online with a guy from Mexico about football, but we were at cross-purposes. I was talking about American Football, but he was talking about

a. soccer

b. gridiron

c. basketball

Idiom of the Day

Contributor: Matt Errey