Opening two windows on opposite sides of a room provides a cross breeze, letting the bad air out and the good air in and it will maximize internal airflow.

Now is there a specific word for that 'effect'? Ventilation? Circulation? Airflow? Or maybe oscillation? Which is the right word? Example...

Hey Danny, can you please open both windows for [insert word]? Thank you.


9 Answers 9



This was the term used in our house, and since my father worked in the heating/ventilation/air-conditioning field, I assumed it was "correct". A cursory Web search indicates that the term is still widely used.

  • 5
    "Cross ventilation relies on the wind and is therefore sometimes called 'wind-induced ventilation. ' While stack ventilation is a vertical process, cross ventilation is a horizontal one, allowing air to enter through one side of a building and exit through the other." novelldesignbuild.com/stack-ventilation-cross-ventilation
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 2:41

Through-draught (Lexico; not many places define the compound), or of course through-draft if that's the spelling in use where you live.

It's defined as a draught or air current passing through a room etc., so it's just what you're trying to achieve by opening opposite window.

  • I think through is the key word here that distinguishes flow travelling in one window, along the room, and out of the other, from other (e.g. circular) air flows.
    – gidds
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 21:38
  • Same as in Norwegian then - "gjennomtrekk" Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 12:18
  • The phrase is not hyphenated in Br English. Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 20:04
  • 3
    I don't think this is very common in AmE Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 23:23
  • @AzorAhai-him- I'm not sure if you'd describe it as "common" in British English, because it's not a situation that commonly needs description. Something less specific like "to get some air in here" would often do the job. But if you need something for exactly the OP's situation, it's probably the most common phrase
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 8:27

I have heard this called cross flow ventilation. I have never heard a single word synonym for it.

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    'Cross-ventilation' seems right as I see it across the web.
    – E.Groeg
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 12:57
  • 5
    I've also heard "cross breeze" to specifically mean the draft caused by two open windows on opposite sides of the building, but similarly no single word. Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 14:57

Cross-breeze is the term I would expect to encounter in this context, hyphenated from the adjective/noun in your example sentence to form a new noun. I personally wouldn't even blink at crossbreeze combined completely, though that formation appears to be less popular according to Google Ngram Viewer.


a breeze that occurs when two windows are [open] across from one another, creating a flow of cool air, for one's pleasure and comfort.

Rachel, you want me to open the window so there is a cross-breeze?


In the title and text of this Onion article (Windows Opened On Both Coasts In Effort To Create Transcontinental Cross-Breeze), the word is used correctly to my ear. Part of the joke here is the juxtaposition of formal scientific/journalistic writing with a term normally reserved for casual conversation (cf. bathos).


You are probably thinking of a draft / draught:

a current of air in a closed-in space

  • 2
    You can have a draught from a single opening to the outside. Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 19:06
  • 1
    @DJClayworth Yes, so the term includes what OP asked about but can also refer to other phenomena. Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 20:58
  • 2
    An unmodified "draft" is often a bad thing; nobody wants to live in a drafty house.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 21:53
  • 2
    @DJClayworth It doesn't really mean "a whole lot of things"; it means things that are very similar to what OP was describing. I suppose that "through-draft" (the currently most upvoted answer) is more specific, but I don't recall ever hearing that term here in the Northeast U.S. The most popular term here (besides what OP mentioned himself / herself) is simply "draft". Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 22:50
  • 2
    Is this an AmE vs BE thing? Draft is the AmE answer for the OP fill in: Hey Danny, can you please open both windows for a draft? We might say cross ventilation for fancy. Never heard/saw through-draught in my lifetime. Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 2:58

For your example sentence, I would just use the obvious (inasmuch as it's the term you already did use):

(some) airflow


(some) air flow

Alternatively, your


works, too.

In American English, I would not use any spelling of "draft" or anything based on that word for this purpose, as that carries the wrong connotations.


It was a thru-breeze where I came from - regional Australia.

  • 2
    Please include more information, preferably with citations.
    – livresque
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 2:13
  • 1
    Fair request but sorry, can find nothing in literature to cite. It must have been local coinage but it meant the same as cross-breeze. Specifically, it referred to the request to open the front and back doors - both ends of the central passage - when the afternoon sea breeze kicked in. That is, it blew straight through the house. Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 10:51

When entering closed spaces in the refining industry, we insisted on a sweep, an air flow that swept the space from inlet to opposing outlet. (Which flow was propelled by some kind of fan or air mover.)


This is one of those cases where it's quite important to think of your audience and actors. A technical audience might go with 'cross-flow ventilation' but who says that in the real world? I guess, but your starting point may be different from mine, 'fresh air' or simply 'breeze' is the beginning.

If this is a dialog and an issue then use it as an example to show how the characters see and explain things and get their way.

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