- an opposing or contrary purpose.
- at cross-purposes, in a way that involves or produces mutual misunderstanding or frustration, usually unintentionally.
Origin of cross-purpose
Related Words for at cross purposesinimical, hostile, opposing, averse, antithetical, disputed, anti, conflicting, repelling, clashing, crossing, counter, rival, facing, warring, battling, combating, denying, exposing
- a contrary aim or purpose
- at cross-purposes conflicting; opposed; disagreeing
at cross purposes
With aims or goals that conflict or interfere with one another, as in I'm afraid the two departments are working at cross purposes. This idiom, first recorded in 1688, may have begun as a 17th-century parlor game called “cross-purposes,” in which a series of subjects (or questions) were divided from their explanations (or answers) and distributed around the room. Players then created absurdities by combining a subject taken from one person with an explanation taken from another.