I came across the word 'cross-party' while reading the newspaper. I didn't know this word so I looked it up in a dictionary. (Denoting interaction between two or more political parties).

I noticed that I didn't find this word in an AmE dictionary, it only seems to exist in BrE. I have done an advanced search in google and it is almost never used on CNN (3.000 results in 0,46 sec), but BBC seems to use it quite often (45000 results in 0,46 sec).

Now my question is next: Is there a synonym for this word in AmE?

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    Cynically, no: could the Republicans and Democrats ever manage to work together to necessitate such a word?
    – Jascol
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 11:03
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    'bipartisan' (from two parties) is what is used in the US.
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 13:40
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    'Bipartisan' is the common single word, and I think you will also find the phrase "across party lines" used often.
    – user1359
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 18:17
  • @Zeya Van Noten Is it an AmEng equivalent to use in he specific context of US politics that you're after?
    – Elian
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 12:39

6 Answers 6


In the US, the term bipartisan is often used, as most politicians identify with either the Republican or the Democratic party. This is opposed to, for example, the UK, where it is sometimes said that there are two-and-half parties, with the Liberal Democrats, Labour, and Conservative party.

EDIT: Additionally, as pointed out in the comments, the Scottish National Party is now the third largest party in the Commons.

According to the OD

the term cross-party does not compete very effectively with the default term bipartisan

So, as a simple answer to your question, no, there is not a simple, widely used term, as the government in America is still mostly divided in two (which makes bipartisan the easy and most effective term to describe the dichotomic nature of American politics.

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    I would add that the two-party system is so ingrained in the American system that bipartisan is often used even when there are third parties or independents in the mix, since the overwhelming majority of participants in any such project, bill, panel, etc. will be from the two major parties. In other words, a commission of four Democrats, three Republicans, and one Libertarian is still a bipartisan commission.
    – choster
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 15:24
  • I think the term would be understood by intelligent people if expanded using Latin number prefixes, e.g. tripartisan, quadripartisan, quintipartisan.
    – Motomotes
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 15:38
  • A couple of corrections: the party you're referring to as the "half" is the Liberal Democrats, which is not the same as the Liberal Party, the former having 8 seats in the Commons, and the latter having none. Also, as of 2015, the third largest party in the Commons is the Scottish National Party. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 16:26
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    @choster: Indeed. And conversely, a commission with no Democrats, or with no Republicans, probably wouldn't be called "bipartisan", even if it did contain a member of a third party.
    – ruakh
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 18:09

Cross-party means:

Involving or relating to two or more political parties: a cross-party committee of MPs.

In the UK political system, there are multiple parties, 11 of which have Members of Parliament, UK House of Commons. This might be the reason why "cross-party" is used in the U.K.


However, in the US political system, there have been only 2 major parties in its recent history, the Republican Party and Democratic Party. There were some small parties, but they were not strong enough to exert any influence on policy-making. In the House of Representatives, only two major parties are holding seats. That's why bipartisan is used in the U.S. which means:

Of or involving the agreement or cooperation of two political parties that usually oppose each other’s policies: the reforms received considerable bipartisan approval

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

  • Which two parties are the major ones has changed through US history. The Federalists, the Democrat-Republicans, and the Whigs have all had presidents elected. We've had 150 years of the Democrat / Republican divide. Fix that, and your answer will be clearer.
    – jejorda2
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 11:05
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    (Although your answer may be correct in terms of the US equivalent being "bipartisan", I object to the large amount of misinformation in your answer).
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 15:02
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    @Rathony - I'm not sure what you mean by "Your downvote means nothing to me. Got it?". My downvote is not an attack on you, it is me registering my opinion as to whether or not this answer is useful to people who come to this page. Other people have upvoted it. That is fine. This mechanism is what the whole of SO is based on. I also pointed out why I didn't think it was a useful answer. This is again how SO is designed.
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 15:24
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    The fact that eleven different parties have MPs in the UK would be a likely explanation for why "bipartisan" is not used in the UK, but not necessarily an explanation for why "cross-party" is used. About half of the Congresses of the US have had members of at least a third party, but the numbers of third (or fourth) party members have historically been so low (ten or fewer at a time in the last 100 years), that "bipartisan" has been accurate enough in the US for quite some time now. Ref: infoplease.com/ipa/A0774721.html Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 16:39
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    @ToddWilcox The term bipartisan is certainly used in the UK, but as a more general expression. Where a specific understanding is reached between two or more political parties the term cross-party is more likely.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 22:08

A search for cross-party alliances shows that the term cross-party is widely used in American English.

P.S. You won't always find such words in a dictionary because they are formed by analogy, cross being a productive first element; e.g. cross-database, cross-pollination, cross-town, cross-language, cross-connection, cross-traffic ...


I have heard this mostly used in the sphere of international relations, but one word you might consider is "multipolar". This sense of the word is defined by Merriam-Webster as "characterized by more than two centers of power or interest".


I'd suggest interparty Ngram (AmEng)

: between political parties. Origin inter- +‎ party Your Dictionary

Throughout the 1960s, however, Nelson Rockefeller and the state GOP blocked this interparty alliance, despite the objections of some county GOP organizations. New York State and the Rise of Modern Conservatism: Redrawing Party Lines

... yet were unwilling (because of the party principle) to reach across the aisle to form an interparty coalition ... Fighting for the Speakership: the House and the Rise of Party Government


American English has a phrase that refers to the act of bipartisan action, or people working with multiple parties, and that phrase is: Across the Aisle.

  • 1
    And as a footnote -- if a candidate can win support from voters outside his/her own political party or other group, then he/she has "crossover appeal."
    – jkdev
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 7:05

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