I couldn't understand the meaning of have lines crossed in the sentence below:

"We must have had our lines crossed, thank you for checking."

I'd appreciate it if you help me in this order.


  • It seems "crossed lines" is some kind of fault, but without context maybe no one can tell you what it means. – Stan Sep 23 '15 at 3:40
  • I think the phrase is usually "gotten our wires crossed". – Yee-Lum Sep 23 '15 at 15:45

It means there's been miscommunication. The expression began quite literally where the crossing of lines used to occur with telephone calls (see comment below), which resulted in disturbances (odd dial tones, hearing other peoples conversations etc.)

Person 1: I thought we were meeting on the 20th?

Person 2: No, I definitely said the 30th.

Person 1: Sorry, I guess my lines were crossed. The 30th it is.

  • 2
    You're right about the telephony origin, but the wires got crossed at the operator's switchboard as the operator physically used patch cables to connect the caller to the receiver, not out on the poles. And the crossing was the accidental placement of a cable into the wrong plug on the switchboard rather than some static interference. – Jim Sep 23 '15 at 4:47
  • Thanks for the clarification, Jim. I have no idea why my mind went to telephone pole wires haha. – Julia Sep 23 '15 at 4:56

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