I think this girl is sitting sideways on the chair.

girl sitting with her legs over one arm of a chair

I often say to my children "are you sitting sideways on the chair?" like picture 1 and then they invented this "he is lying sideways on the bed" when they saw this picture

Stick figure lying on a bed parallel to the headboard

Can we say "he is lying sideways on the bed" as shown in the picture 2?

  • Must be a big bed or a small person. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 9:37
  • According to the band Phish (around 0:22) you can at least sleep "lengthwise" and "diagonal[ly]" in your bed. By that measure, "sideways" seems consistent. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 18:21
  • One might also say that girl is sitting sidesaddle. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 18:23
  • 1
    @JoshuaTaylor I have never heard sidesaddle used to reference this sitting position. The photo on the wiki page shows there is not much commonality between the two postures. Where have you encountered this usage?
    – Jontia
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 19:58
  • 1
    @Jontia I seem to recall it used (some what figuratively) for someone sitting at an angle significantly different from the "intended." But, as I search for example now, I'm coming up short. If someone described that position that way, I don't think I'd find it all that strange, but I guess it's not common, either. Maybe I dreamed it... Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 20:17

3 Answers 3


Yes, you can absolutely refer to this as lying sideways on the bed. I actually use this phrase on a regular basis when my children get themselves into an odd position in their beds.

To be clearer you might wish to say "lying sideways across the bed". The use of across reinforces the idea that it is the position relative to the bed.

  • Perhaps it's just me, but I would actually find "sideways across the bed" less clear than "sideways on the bed". The latter is so natural and clear (and familiar) to me that I would wonder whether the "across" was meant to convey something extra or different. Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 17:52

I mean, it’s technically true. The problem is just that it’s a rather unusual sitting/lying position, so people would probably default to thinking you mean something else. Like lying on the bed, not on your front or back, but with the weight on the edges of your body:

So something like this:

Enter image description here

Which, according to a Google search for that sentence, is to be the more common position.

So if you want to use it like that you probably need to add more context explaining that you mean the less common lying position and what that looks like.

  • 7
    I'd refer to this a "laying on their side" rather than sideways.
    – Jontia
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 9:40
  • 5
    @Jontia: Only birds lay. We lie. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 10:31
  • @OldBrixtonian good point.
    – Jontia
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 10:32
  • 2
    @Jontia - in standard English, it would be lying on their side. Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 19:53
  • @OldBrixtonian In that case, I am puzzled how we fail to tell the truth on the bed. Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 9:13

On the bed we may lie crosswise or crossways. Normally we lie lengthways or lengthwise.

On a chair we may sit sideways ("To, towards, or from the side").

The normal use of a chair is so well established that we no longer need a word to describe it(!), though parents and teachers might tell kids to sit up properly or to sit up straight or to face the front.

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