Here is the sentence:

"Just cross your eyes a little and it would be impossible for you to tell the difference between this and televised football."

The sentence is from a game app's description. I know the lexical meaning of the phrase "cross your eyes".

Verb 1. cross one's eyes - partly close one's eyes;
"The children squinted to frighten each other"
Synonyms: squint, squinch

However, I am not sure how it would fit here.

Let me make the context clearer. The sentence is about a game update that makes the mobile play so realistic that one cannot differentiate between the game and the real football.

  • 1
    The definition you posted of "cross your eyes" is wrong. That's probably the source of your confusion. – Brennan Vincent Dec 1 '18 at 0:45
  • I edited out the totally incorrect definition, to avoid further massive confusion. – Fattie Dec 1 '18 at 7:36
  • @Fattie: I think the edit changes the OP's intent. I am pretty sure the OP was wondering how squinting would help a video game appear to be a live game. My edit merely quoted the OP's link. My answer attempts to address the misunderstanding. – jxh Dec 1 '18 at 8:22

Crossing your eyes makes it harder to see clearly. This usage means unless you are paying close attention to the differences between the two things, you won't notice them.

I haven't heard this expression used before, but in my personal experience, I have heard people say "if you squint hard enough..."

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    For what it's worth, squinting has the opposite effect. You would say, "If you squint hard enough you can tell the difference between this and televised football." – Jason Bassford Nov 30 '18 at 17:12
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    @JasonBassford usually it's used as "X looks like Y if you squint", which is indeed comparable to the eye-crossing analogy. – Ketura Nov 30 '18 at 20:35
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    @Ketura To be clear, crossing your eyes and squinting are not the same thing—although the two are used in a syntactically similar fashion in the example of this question and answer. Crossing your eyes blurs your vision, meaning you can't see the difference; meanwhile, squinting sharpens your vision, meaning you can see the difference. You would not normally say X looks like Y if you squint. Rather X looks like Y when you don't squint because you can't distinguish between the two. Instead, you would simply say You can make out X if you squint. – Jason Bassford Nov 30 '18 at 21:08

I have not personally encountered the usage of cross your eyes to mean squinting as indicated in your linked reference. I had always heard it used to mean making your eyes appear to be crossed. The condition esotropia is commonly referred to as being cross-eyed:

Esotropia is a form of strabismus in which one or both eyes turns inward. The condition can be constantly present, or occur intermittently, and can give the affected individual a "cross-eyed" appearance.

You can usually accomplish crossing your eyes by trying to focus your eyes on the tip of your nose.

enter image description here

In addition to a funny looking face, you could get double vision, or lose focus, or something else, and thus have trouble seeing things clearly.


I remember seeing the expression "screwed her eyes tight" with the meaning that you're after here.

I would personally rewrite the sentence to something like

"You'll actually mistake this for televised football if you don't pay enough attention".


It's that, when you cross your eyes, you lose depth perception. The comment is the equivalent of saying "It's almost like watching in HD;" or, in other words, it's not quite as good visually, but could be if you lower your standards.

As far as I'm aware, it's not a colloquial phrase anywhere in the US or GB, so whoever said this to you probably missed the intended purpose.

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