Can anyone tell me what the difference is between 'I'm cross with you' and 'I'm angry with you'?

I have the feeling that being cross with someone (by the way, can you be cross 'at'? or is one always cross 'with'?) is more used in Britain than in the US. Is that correct?

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    For those of you who don't know that famous joke about nuns in Transylvania. Have a look here. Mar 18, 2011 at 15:10
  • Yes, AmE speakers wouldn't recognize 'cross' to mean something like 'anger'.
    – Mitch
    Mar 18, 2011 at 16:38
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    @Mitch: We sure as hell would. Don't make me cross with you!
    – Robusto
    Mar 19, 2011 at 14:01
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    @Robusto: :) OK. Sure, maybe 'not recognize' is too strong, but to my ears it sounds like something from British children's books from before WWII. I can't imagine that coming out of an AmE speaker's mouth nowadays.
    – Mitch
    Mar 19, 2011 at 21:11
  • It does make me think of Mary Poppins.
    – JCooper
    Mar 31, 2011 at 1:27

2 Answers 2


Cross is similar to angry, only less intense. It is used to express anger at minor matters.

You left the cream out all night. Now I'm cross with you.


She left me for another man. I was so angry with her I wanted to scream.

  • And can you be cross at something/someone ? I think Yes, though it may sound a little awkward.
    – n0nChun
    Mar 18, 2011 at 13:39
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    @n0nChun, the idiom is that you're cross with someone. "Cross at someone" just sounds... awkward.
    – Marthaª
    Mar 18, 2011 at 14:24
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    @n0nChun: Well, you could also be cross about something.
    – Jimi Oke
    Mar 30, 2011 at 23:45

To be cross implies irritability, with a potential response that is vaguely out of proportion, and surprising, given the nature of the transgression.

The Latin professor is a fair teacher, but don't cross him.

This link hints at a nautical term, possibly stemming from cross-winds (?), though I am speculating on that.

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    "Don't cross him" is a somewhat different idiom than "being cross at someone."
    – JPmiaou
    Mar 18, 2011 at 15:14
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    If you cross someone, they might be cross with you, but yeah, it's more likely they'd be angry or furious.
    – migo
    Mar 19, 2011 at 6:43