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.
QUIZ YOURSELF ON “ITS” VS. “IT’S”!
Words nearby at cross purposes
Example sentences from the Web for at cross purposes
The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and is marked by nine stations of the cross.
If they were meaningful, we might have realized it before—surely one of these kids wore a cross, or a yarmulke, or a hijab?
The reason: activist government and unionized government often work at cross purposes.
What do you get when you cross an oil company with gay rights?How Canadian Oilmen Pinkwash the Keystone Pipeline|Jay Michaelson|December 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But they refused to cross the street to help because, they told bystanders, the rules required them instead to call 911.
In cross-section the burrows varied from round (three inches in diameter) to oval (three inches high and four inches wide).Summer Birds From the Yucatan Peninsula|Erwin E. Klaas
I cannot believe that God would think it necessary to come on earth as a man, and die on the Cross.God and my Neighbour|Robert Blatchford
Results are easily and quickly obtained, and are probably accurate enough for all clinical purposes.A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis|James Campbell Todd
The alternate hexameter and pentameter are, for most purposes, a more agreeable measure than the hexameter by itself.
Tressan was monstrous ill-at-ease, and his face lost a good deal of its habitual plethora of colour.St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini