at cross purposes

Also found in: Idioms.
References in classic literature ?
But they pulled at cross purposes, usually; and always they showed themselves to be acutely aware of the critical eyes all about them, and of the tongues that had nothing to do but to talk about what the eyes saw.
I tried him with some other questions, but his chattering, prompt responses were as often as not quite at cross purposes with my question.
How somebody, lying in my bed, lay saying and doing all this over again, at cross purposes, in a feverish dream all night - the bed a rocking sea that was never still
See how they fight, there for the sword, here for the horse, on that side for the eagle, on this for the helmet; we are all fighting, and all at cross purposes.
When they ought to have spoken, they didn't speak; or when they did speak they were perpetually at cross purposes.
She was absent-minded to a degree, and answered at cross purposes, and sometimes not at all.
My chief feeling was satisfaction that her inner self was once more shut out from me; and I almost revelled for the moment in the absent melancholy that made me answer her at cross purposes, and betray utter ignorance of what she had been saying.
A grieving husband finds himself at cross purposes with his late wife's best friend in this charming little French drama that deserves to appeal beyond the arthouse brigade.
So, it's no surprise that when they later bump into each other, they both have kids on the brain - and when they end up talking at cross purposes, Shabnam says too much.
A COUNTRY that has abandoned all efforts at creating a saner immigration policy has gotten the result it deserves: not one policy but lots of little ones, acting at cross purposes and nullifying one another.
As much a vivid portrait of beautiful yet unforgiving land as it is a chaotic tangle of people at cross purposes, Faraway Roads is captivating and highly recommended.
When human interests are at cross purposes with the rodents' crazy schemes, the fur is sure to fly.