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When do we use crossroad (singular), when do we use crossroads (singular) and when do we use crossroads (plural)?

Or can we use each of them for the same thing?

1)

Two roads crossing obliquely

Is this a crossroad or a crossroads or are this crossroads?

2)

Two roads crossing at right angle

Is this a crossroad or a crossroads or are this crossroads?

3)

Multiple roads crossing in a mesh

Is this a crossroad or a crossroads or are these crossroads? (Edit)

4)

Three roads meeting at a point

Is this a crossroad or a crossroads or are these crossroads?

Would be very interested in an answer.

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  • If you're driving along and you come to a road that crosses the one you're on, that's a crossroad. Though if the crossing road is large and there is some sort of traffic control beyond simple stop signs, it would more likely be called an intersection. (Road crossings inside towns are generally called "intersections".) And if a road begins or ends at that point it's usually a junction. Though there are no hard-and-fast rules.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 24, 2016 at 12:36
  • Note that it is unusual to use the singular crossroads in a non-figurative sense.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 24, 2016 at 12:37
  • I set out to ask if “crossroads” in its independent meaning was a plurale tantum, but this question kept me from doing so.
    – dakab
    Mar 27, 2020 at 18:39
  • @HotLicks: Maybe where you come from! "Intersection" is hardly ever used in the UK (for roads, at least); the standard term for where two roads cross is "crossroads", or "junction" more generally.
    – psmears
    Oct 7, 2021 at 9:49

2 Answers 2

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According to the dictionary a crossroad is the road that crosses at a crossroads.

(crossroad) North American A road that crosses a main road or joins two main roads.

Furthermore, according to wikipedia a crossroads seems to be used for two roads crossing each other - while it doesn't specify the angle.

An intersection is the junction at-grade (that is to say, on the same level) of two or more roads either meeting or crossing. An intersection may be three-way (a T junction or Y junction – the latter also known as a fork if approached from the stem of the Y), four-way (often in the form of a crossroads), or have five (a 5-points) or more arms.

Thus, I would call your examples one and two each a crossroads, while I would consider four an intersection and three a total mess.

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  • I can't resist muddying the waters. In the South we talk about the forks in the road. as in The Forks of the Road Slave Market in Natchez MS or "The devil he got to the forks in the road; Ol' lady you're one helluva a load!"
    – Airymouse
    Sep 4, 2016 at 18:15
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The word "crossroads" is not the plural form of "crossroad", in the same way that the word "arms" as in "arms race" is not the plural form of "arm" and the word "arts" as in "liberal arts" is not the plural form of "art".

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  • 2
    Actually "arms" is the plural of "arm", but the singular form is pretty much obsolete. We still use "firearm" though - an arm (weapon) that works by fire.
    – Peter
    Oct 7, 2021 at 8:54
  • @Peter "Arms" WAS the plural form of "arm". As you said, the singular form is obsolete.
    – John Z. Li
    Oct 15, 2021 at 1:30
  • I think that is tending towards a philosophical point. Does a word still exist when it is only used in old literature?
    – Peter
    Oct 15, 2021 at 9:52

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