As a second sense, astride means extending across. But I am getting confused with some of its usage examples.

I found an example of a preposition astride used with the verb stand in an Oxford English Living Dictionaries usage example:

‘the port stands astride an international route’.

I also found an example of astride used with the verb sit in one of the Sentence Dict site's usage instances.

  1. It lies in the southeast of Asia and sits astride the Tropic of Cancer.

The verb sit and stand are opposite to each other, but how can they be used in a context indicating the same meaning?

  • google.it/…: – user067531 Jul 29 '18 at 12:02
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    in what sense are sit and stand "opposites"? They both mean the same thing: to be at rest, i.e., not in motion. – AmE speaker Jul 29 '18 at 12:04
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    @user That's like saying "ascend" and "descend" aren't opposites because they both mean the same thing: "To be in motion." Or "compliment" and "criticise" aren't opposites because they both mean the same thing: "To speak words to someone." I don't know whether those two examples do constitute opposites, but that reasoning is way off, especially to say they both mean the same thing. Accelerating and braking both mean the same thing because they both mean to change speed. – Zebrafish Jul 29 '18 at 16:31

Although this second sense of astride is a generalized version of its first sense, to have a leg on either side of, it remains a preposition and the most naturally sounding verbs that go with this preposition are those posture-acts in which one can separate their legs, i.e straddle. Sitting (on a horse or wall coping) may be the most natural position for this, but one can also stand this way, for example one foot on either side a small brook. Thus, the general application of this preposition is fundamentally metaphorical, or more precisely, a personification. Ports and other places of course neither sit nor stand. We accept that, in the general sense, they can straddle things, but when we decide to use the preposition astride to describe this, we must choose our metaphor.


"Sit" and "stand" are not "opposites", any more than "eggs" and "bacon" are opposites. When describing location, we often use verbs of posture. Bristol sits/stands/lies at the lowest place on the River Avon where a bridge was possible in medieval times. They are used metaphorically (only a human or animal can literally sit, stand or lie).

  • That's not exactly true. Many thesauruses list "stand" as an antonym of "sit". I can't think of "bacon" being an antonym of "eggs". After one sits, unless they die on that seat, will do the reverse, which is standing. – Zebrafish Jul 29 '18 at 13:42
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    @Zebrafish The opposite of sitting is not standing. It's "not sitting." Which can include any number of "not sitting" activities and positions. Like lying or running. I accept that some thesauruses list it that way, but I only agree in a limited context. – Jason Bassford Jul 29 '18 at 20:06
  • @Jason Bassford I hear you, and I'm not sure that it is opposite, but consider this corollary to your point: the opposite of "going up" is "not going up", which can include going down or being stationary, or moving sideways. Therefore going down is not the opposite of going up. I feel that if you asked anyone what the opposite of "going up" was you'd overwhelmingly get the response "going down", which I wouldn't call incorrect. They're clearly opposite directions. – Zebrafish Jul 29 '18 at 20:37
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    @Zebrafish Yes, but I don't equate sitting with descending into a chair and standing with ascending from a chair. For that specifically, I would consider sitting down and standing up to be commonly used antonyms. :) – Jason Bassford Jul 29 '18 at 20:43
  • @Jason Bassford No I hope I'm not. Someone else made the claim that both sit and stand are being stationary, but that's ignoring the other meanings of "moving to a sitting position", or "rising to a standing position". If the opposite of an action is as you described it, not doing that action, ie., not sitting, and standing is precluded from being its opposite because there are alternatives to standing, then with the same definition "going down" is precluded from being the opposite of "going up", because "not going up" can include being stationary or moving sideways. That's the issue I have. – Zebrafish Jul 29 '18 at 22:40

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