Is there a simple expression to mean "in the opposite direction to me"?

For example, how can I describe a person that comes in the direction opposite to me? I would like an expression that doesn't mean that the person is heading straight for me (e.g. to greet me) but only in the direction opposite to me.

For example, "yesterday I saw a man running to me/towards me/at me/in the opposite direction to me on the pavement, I wondered if he was a thief escaping"?

Similarly, how can I describe the wind that blows against me/into my face? I simply want to mean that the wind blows in the direction opposite to me making it difficult for me to move forwards.

  • Typically we say "Walking the other way". – Dan Bron Mar 27 '15 at 20:03
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    Approaching is a possibility. – Good A.M. Mar 27 '15 at 20:22
  • Against is a possibility (although you would be walking against the wind, and it isn't generally used for people coming towards you except in a crowd (against the crowd)). – Andrew Leach Mar 27 '15 at 20:31
  • It's a matter of style and implied meaning. The wind might blow on to your face and be refreshing, or it could blow against you and become an obstacle. Someone might walk toward you, suggesting they appear to be approaching you, or they might be walking the other way - eventually passing by you. – Herr Pink Mar 28 '15 at 1:14
  • Into the wind, or into a headwind. – Steven Littman Mar 28 '15 at 2:37

You said it yourself; a man running toward me" (or "walking toward me" , or "coming toward me") — not coming AT you, because that means heading for a collision with you.

If you see him in front of you, and say he is coming "toward" you, that has in it the sense of the opposite direction to the direction that you are going. If he is coming toward you from any direction other than straight ahead, you would then clarify:

  • coming toward me from the right ( or "my right") This is perhaps up to 90 degrees, but probably somewhat less, because he is in your peripheral vision; you can't see straight sideways without tirning your head.

  • coming toward me from the left (or "my left"). Likewise.

  • coming toward me from the other side of the street (possibly diagonal)

As for the wind, as others have said, if it is blowing in your face, it is blowing against you. In transportation (trucking, sailing, flying) this is called a headwind, whereas a wind blowing from behind, helping you on your way is called a tailwind.


Someone could be moving counter to your direction.

For wind, you could say that you were moving against the wind or moving counter to the direction of the wind.

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    Really? Downvoted? Why? – Mike Mar 28 '15 at 3:02

How do I describe a person who is coming in the opposing direction to me? If she is before you she is coming toward you; if the motions (yours and the other person's) are linear that means "she is approaching you." The word counter in this sense cannot be used without being nonsensical. Neither in regular acceptable speech or in writing:People do not use counter in this manner.

In a vin diagram counter and opposite make a very small wedge.

Counter as a noun means many things, and one of them is opposite but almost always the word counter has to make a compound noun with another noun, or an adverbial, a compound adjective to be used in that sense:

as in the, thesis and counter thesis; it is more of synonym of versus (vs) than opposite here.

"Counter"maybe used if the motions are circular, one walks clockwise, and the other counter-clockwise. or rotates:

E.g.: But its key ingredient is the Duoprop drive leg that spins two propellers on one axis; one goes clockwise, its partner counter clockwise. Twin counter-rotating propellers equal a greater surface area gripping the water.

  • Everything in this answer except the first two sentences is basically nonsense. Counter can be and is used in this sense by a good many people. Your opinions can run counter to the general consensus. This is the adverbial/prepositional use of the word, however. As a noun, counter never means ‘opposite’. The prefixal use form counter- is a different kettle of fish not directly relevant here. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 28 '15 at 13:39
  • counter, n.4 (ˈkaʊntə(r)) 2.I.2 The contrary, opposite. OED – Abe Mar 28 '15 at 19:31
  • Yes, the counter meaning the opposite, as a noun. The opposite in this question is the adjective, not the noun, which has a different meaning. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 28 '15 at 19:50
  • counterattack |ˈkountərəˌtak| noun an attack made in response to one by an enemy or opponent. Almost all the prefixal use of counter, end up making nouns. And by far the greatest use of counter- is in that form. – Abe Mar 28 '15 at 20:40
  • And that's the prefix, which is neither the preposition/adverb nor the noun and is quite irrelevant to the question… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 28 '15 at 21:39

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