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. – Alain Pannetier Φ Mar 18 '11 at 15:10
  • Yes, AmE speakers wouldn't recognize 'cross' to mean something like 'anger'. – Mitch Mar 18 '11 at 16:38
  • @Mitch: We sure as hell would. Don't make me cross with you! – Robusto Mar 19 '11 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 '11 at 21:11
  • It does make me think of Mary Poppins. – JCooper Mar 31 '11 at 1:27

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.

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  • And can you be cross at something/someone ? I think Yes, though it may sound a little awkward. – n0nChun Mar 18 '11 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 '11 at 14:24
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    @n0nChun: Well, you could also be cross about something. – Jimi Oke Mar 30 '11 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 '11 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 '11 at 6:43