cross section

a section made by a plane cutting anything transversely, especially at right angles to the longest axis.
a piece so cut off.
a photograph, diagram, or other pictorial representation of such a section.
the act of cutting anything across.
a typical selection; a sample showing all characteristic parts, relationships, etc.: a cross section of American opinion.
Surveying. a vertical section of the ground surface taken at right angles to a survey line.
Also called nuclear cross section. Physics. a quantity expressing the effective area that a given nucleus presents as a target to a bombarding particle, giving a measure of the probability that the particle will induce a reaction.

1825–35 Unabridged


[kraws-sek-shuhn, kros-]
Also, cross-sectional. of or pertaining to a cross section.
verb (used with object)
to make or divide into a cross section.

1875–80 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cross section
1.  maths a plane surface formed by cutting across a solid, esp perpendicular to its longest axis
2.  a section cut off in this way
3.  the act of cutting anything in this way
4.  a random selection or sample, esp one regarded as representative: a cross section of the public
5.  surveying a vertical section of a line of ground at right angles to a survey line
6.  physics a measure of the probability that a collision process will result in a particular reaction. It is expressed by the effective area that one participant presents as a target for the other

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

also cross section, 1835, from cross (adj.) + section. Fig. sense of "representative sample" is from 1903.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
cross section  
In particle physics, an expression of the probability of the occurrence of an event, typically the scattering of subatomic particles, over a given area.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Draw a sketch of an ocean cross-section on the board, showing the shallow and
  deep parts as well as the open ocean.
It seems to me that people who tweet might themselves not be exactly a random
  cross-section of the society.
The hexagonal cross-section keeps it from rolling away, and the thickness makes
  it comfortable to hold.
Looking at the cross-section, you'll notice a couple of other features.
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