Trending: crosshair

Lookups spiked 17,500% on February 18, 2019

Why are people looking up crosshair?

Crosshair leapt to the top of our lookups on February 18th, 2019, after Roger Stone used an image of them in an Instagram post that was widely viewed as a questionable life choice.

What does crosshair mean?

We define crosshair as “a fine wire or thread in the focus of the eyepiece of an optical instrument used as a reference line in the field or for marking the instrumental axis.” Additionally, the word has a figurative sense in which it is used to describe someone or something being targeted as if through an aiming device having crosshairs. Stone claimed that his use of the symbol was misinterpreted, in apparent reference to a sense we do not define.

Where does crosshair come from?

Until recently the earliest use of crosshair had we had on record came in the late 19th century. Recent findings, however, have shown the word in use some 200 years prior, initially found in late 17th century treatises on telescopes.


On the Stile-Ruler are fixt Telescopick Sights, and the cross hairs in their due place.
— William Molyneux, Sciothericum telescopicum, or, A new contrivance of adapting a telescope to an horizontal dial for observing the moment of time by day or night useful in all astronomical observations, and for regulating and adjusting curious pendulum-watches and other time-keepers, with proper tables requisite thereto, 1686

Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
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