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sign of the cross

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noun

a movement of the hand to indicate a cross, as from forehead to breast and left shoulder to right or, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, from right shoulder to left.

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Origin of sign of the cross

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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British Dictionary definitions for sign of the cross

sign of the cross

noun

mainly RC Church a gesture in which the right hand is moved from the forehead to the breast and from the left shoulder to the right to describe the form of a cross in order to invoke the grace of Christ
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

Cultural definitions for sign of the cross

sign of the cross

A ritual gesture common in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Anglican Communion, made at the beginning and end of prayer as a reminder of Jesus' death on the cross. Worshipers make the sign by touching first the forehead, then the breast, and then each shoulder in turn, thus tracing in the air the shape of a cross.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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