I was watching my friend playing a video game where they were running through some trees and eventually running toward/along a fence. I suggested to go the opposite direction of the fence, but they seemed confused by the suggestion of what direction that actually meant. I've always understood the phrase "go opposite direction of [blank]" to mean if you were facing [blank] straight-on, to take a 180° turn and go that direction. Is that an incorrect use of the word "opposite" when describing directions from an object?

  • You may do well to limit this question to fences. Some other uses may be different. – J. Taylor Feb 17 '18 at 22:44
  • Running towards a fence is a different direction to running along it. – Andrew Leach Feb 17 '18 at 23:09
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    What's wrong with away from the fence? This also has the advantage of describing motion away from rattlesnakes or wasps that might be going in the same direction, only, one hopes, not as fast. – KarlG Feb 17 '18 at 23:15

I wouldn't go so far as it call it wrong, but it strikes me as both unnatural (not many people would say that) and unclear. "Go the opposite direction of X" seems like it should be an ellipsis of "go the opposite of the direction X is going", which isn't what you mean in this case. Since "go away from X" is available, and easily understood, it seems like the better choice.

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