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Celtic cross design.jpg


Middle English, from Old English, from Old Norse or Old Irish; Old Norse kross, from Old Irish cros, from Latin cruc-, crux

The word cross comes ultimately from Latin crux, a Roman torture device used for crucifixion, via Old Irish cros. The word was introduced to English in the 10th century as the term for the instrument of the torturous execution of Jesus as described in the New Testament, gradually replacing the earlier word rood.

For lessons on the related topic of Crucifixion, follow this link.


b often capitalized : the cross on which Jesus was crucified
b : an affliction that tries one's virtue, steadfastness, or patience
  • 3: a cruciform sign made to invoke the blessing of Christ especially by touching the forehead, breast, and shoulders
  • 4a : a device composed of an upright bar traversed by a horizontal one; specifically : one used as a Christian symbol
b capitalized : the Christian religion
  • 5: a structure (as a monument) shaped like or surmounted by a cross
  • 6: a figure or mark formed by two intersecting lines crossing at their midpoints; specifically : such a mark used as a signature
  • 7: a cruciform badge, emblem, or decoration
  • 8: the intersection of two ways or lines : crossing
  • 9: annoyance, thwarting <a cross in love>
  • 10a : an act of crossing dissimilar individuals
b : a crossbred individual or kind
c : one that combines characteristics of two different types or individuals
  • 11a : a fraudulent or dishonest contest
b : dishonest or illegal practices —used especially in the phrase on the cross
  • 12: a movement from one part of a theater stage to another
  • 13a : a punch thrown over the opponent's lead in boxing
b : an attacking pass in soccer played across the field from one side to the other or to the middle
  • 14: a security transaction in which a broker acts for both buyer and seller (as in the placing of a large lot of common stock) —called also cross-trade


A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet at right angles.

The cross is one of the most ancient human symbols, and is used by many religions, such as Christianity. It is frequently a representation of the division of the world into four elements (Chevalier, 1997) or cardinal points, or alternately as the union of the concepts of divinity, the vertical line, and the world, the horizontal.


It is not known when the first cross image was made; after circles, crosses are one of the first symbols drawn by children of all cultures. There are many cross-shaped incisions in European cult caves, dating back to the earliest stages of human cultural development in the stone age. Like other symbols from this period, their use continued in the Celtic and Germanic cultures in Europe. For example, celtic coins minted many centuries before the Christian era may have an entire side showing this type of cross, sometimes with the cardinal points marked by concave depressions in the same style as in stone age carvings. Other coins may be showing the cross held by a rider on a horse and springing a fern leaf, sometimes identified as a Tree of Life symbol.[1]

See also