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cross-purpose

[kraws-pur-puh s, kros-] /ˈkrɔsˈpɜr pəs, ˈkrɒs-/
noun
1.
an opposing or contrary purpose.
Idioms
2.
at cross-purposes, in a way that involves or produces mutual misunderstanding or frustration, usually unintentionally.
Origin
1660-1670
1660-70
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for at cross purposes

cross-purpose

noun
1.
a contrary aim or purpose
2.
at cross-purposes, conflicting; opposed; disagreeing
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
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Idioms and Phrases with at cross purposes
With aims or goals that conflict or interfere with one another, as in I'm afraid the two departments are working at cross purposes. This idiom, first recorded in 1688, may have begun as a 17th-century parlor game called “cross-purposes,” in which a series of subjects (or questions) were divided from their explanations (or answers) and distributed around the room. Players then created absurdities by combining a subject taken from one person with an explanation taken from another.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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