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.
Next, here are honest and well intentioned persons, who by a want of tact--by inaccurate perceptions--by a distorting imagination--have been kept continually at cross purposes with the world and bewildered upon the path of life.
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.
It could also prompt the two to work with each other in the war against terrorism instead of at cross purposes.
He said he was also pained to see two states one de facto and the other de jure often working at cross purposes.
When you do both, they cancel each other out--they work at cross purposes.
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.