I read the following caption:

The narrow gauge train often crisscrosses the street

enter image description here

What's the difference between “crisscross" and “cross" this context?

  • 5
    That is written by a non-native speaker. A train cannot crisscross a street. His name is given when you click through. He is probably Indian or Pakistani.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 23:47
  • 4
    @Lambie It looks like that train is crisscrossing the street to me. It's starting one one side of the road, it goes to the other side, and probably crosses back over to go along the original side of the road.
    – nick012000
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 7:18
  • 6
    Crisscrossing does not require 90 degree angles. The word as it is really used in English makes no statement about a specific geometric angle.
    – barbecue
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 19:57
  • 3
    @Lambie What makes you think that someone called Michael Janich who was born in Germany (and whose full bio you clicked through) would be Indian or Pakistani, and for that matter, what makes you so sure that an Indian or Pakistani can't be native to a country that speaks English? Commented May 30, 2021 at 21:03
  • 6
    @Lambie You don't need right angles or intersections to crisscross a road. For instance, a heavily drunk person could "crisscross" a road by staggering down it, crossing repeatedly from one side to the other in an erratic fashion.
    – nick012000
    Commented May 31, 2021 at 1:44

3 Answers 3


From Strongdar on Reddit:

In that context, crisscross would tell you that it crosses the street repeatedly, in a back and forth sort of manner. Cross would just mean it goes over the street once.

  • 4
    There seems to be a lot of confusion in the answers and comments: the definition here for crisscross is correct, but the word is (almost certainly) being used incorrectly in the context. I'd say that crisscross is a nice example of a frequentative English verb. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequentative
    – dbmag9
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 12:37
  • @dbmag9 "the word is (almost certainly) being used incorrectly in the context. " -> see this comment: "This Wikipedia page has a map that suggests the train does crisscross a road: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darjeeling_Himalayan_Railway?wprov=sfti1Todd Wilcox Commented May 31, 2021 at 2:44
  • No, it does not crisscross a road. It snakes across the road.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 16:15


a pattern of intersecting straight lines or paths.
"the crisscross of wrinkles on his face"

Oxford Dictionaries via Google

If you crisscross a street, you create an abstract pattern of intersecting straight lines as you go across and then return to the same side, several times.

Cross is just once; She crossed the street.

She crisscrossed the street. = She went back and forth several times across the street.


If you remove the white space between those two lines of x's, that is a crisscross pattern.

  • This is a noun. Oddly the verb used in the original question doesn't carry the "straight" connotation. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 22:32
  • @solublefish crisscross is an adjective or verb. Not a noun. usually.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 16:33
  • Your quote from Oxford literally labels it a noun. I agree this is not the usual usage. Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 20:11
  1. Bro so I am from Gulfport MS 26 year old Bryan Farmer. I thought criss cross was when you sit down folding your legs. I learn that it is actually cross cross and I've been hypnotized by toads. Also criss cross is when you repeatedly walk or travel an areas completely basically more than twice. But to cross something is to go with or around. Sometimes against. Big stuff to think about.
  • No, you really do sit criss-cross (applesauce) (this isn't really related to the question at hand, however).
    – Laurel
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 22:28
  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 9:02

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