at cross-purposes

idiom

: in a way that causes confusion or failure because people are working or talking with different goals or purposes
We'll never succeed together if we continue to work at cross-purposes (with each other).
It became clear that they were talking at cross-purposes.

Examples of at cross-purposes in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some refer to the Burmese of Myanmar, which seems a usage at cross-purposes. Hannah Beech, New York Times, 20 Apr. 2024 In a movie that ultimately centers on a trinity of female kin at cross-purposes — visiting Lilja, her formidable grandmother and moderately rebellious aunt — the 18-year-old outsider is the catalyst for the revelations and unraveling to come. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2019 Israel’s vow to resume the war is at cross-purposes with Arab countries who negotiated the hostage release and want the temporary truce to evolve into a more lasting cease-fire. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2023 Most Americans don’t think about how different levels of the government — local, state, federal — are at cross-purposes with each other, and that these various levels often turn the other way or even encourage vigilante violence. Stuart Miller, Los Angeles Times, 30 Oct. 2023 The alliance of Yemeni forces the Saudis helped to assemble was unified in theory, but in practice its members acted independently, and often at cross-purposes. April Longley Alley, Foreign Affairs, 11 Nov. 2019 The religious network sometimes acted independently or even at cross-purposes with the government. Tim Golden, ProPublica, 27 Apr. 2023 Trump, who is often at cross-purposes with McConnell, has appeared especially engaged in the Arizona and Georgia races, largely because of his own narrow losses there. BostonGlobe.com, 18 July 2021 And for that there may need to be a cultivation of traits, tendencies, and dispositions, which are at cross-purposes which our selfish natures. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 25 July 2012

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'at cross-purposes.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Dictionary Entries Near at cross-purposes

Cite this Entry

“At cross-purposes.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/at%20cross-purposes. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

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