[kraws-sek-shuh n, kros-]


Also cross-sec·tion·al. of or relating to a cross section.

verb (used with object)

to make or divide into a cross section.

Nearby words

  1. cross-reacting antibody,
  2. cross-reaction,
  3. cross-refer,
  4. cross-reference,
  5. cross-resistance,
  6. cross-sectional study,
  7. cross-sell,
  8. cross-slide,
  9. cross-staff,
  10. cross-sterile

Origin of cross-section

First recorded in 1875–80

cross section


a section made by a plane cutting anything transversely, especially at right angles to the longest axis.
a piece so cut off.
a photograph, diagram, or other pictorial representation of such a section.
the act of cutting anything across.
a typical selection; a sample showing all characteristic parts, relationships, etc.: a cross section of American opinion.
Surveying. a vertical section of the ground surface taken at right angles to a survey line.
Also called nuclear cross section. Physics. a quantity expressing the effective area that a given nucleus presents as a target to a bombarding particle, giving a measure of the probability that the particle will induce a reaction.

Origin of cross section

First recorded in 1825–35 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cross-section

British Dictionary definitions for cross-section

cross section


maths a plane surface formed by cutting across a solid, esp perpendicular to its longest axis
a section cut off in this way
the act of cutting anything in this way
a random selection or sample, esp one regarded as representativea cross section of the public
surveying a vertical section of a line of ground at right angles to a survey line
physics a measure of the probability that a collision process will result in a particular reaction. It is expressed by the effective area that one participant presents as a target for the other
Derived Formscross-sectional, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cross-section



also cross section, 1748, originally in engineering sketches, from cross (adj.) + section (n.). Figurative sense of "representative sample" is from 1903.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for cross-section

cross section

In particle physics, an expression of the probability of the occurrence of an event, typically the scattering of subatomic particles, over a given area.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.