Definition of athwart in English:



  • 1From side to side of; across.

    ‘a long counter thrown athwart the entranceway’
    • ‘But to place that tribute athwart the vista of the mall would be the act of a country that no longer understands its own history.’
    • ‘The Island of St. Germain, the objective of the action, is a low mound of earth surrounded by swamps and was athwart the division zone of advance.’
    • ‘Appleby, the county town, suffered greatly from Scottish raids, since it was athwart an easy line of advance across Stainmore towards Durham and York.’
    • ‘The site benefited from centuries of Indian custom in that it lay athwart an old Indian portage between Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne and the river, the trail that now terminated as Rue de l' Hôpital.’
    • ‘While Matsya lay athwart the route from the northern lands to the ports on the western coast, it was not a place of great enterprise.’
    • ‘The solar flares and the corona of the sun danced athwart the planet's silhouette.’
    • ‘To the south, athwart the mountain's lower slope, was a maze of byways and ramshackle housing for the native population.’
    • ‘He took his hand off the hilt of his dagger at last, though still his eyes were fixed athwart the city.’
    • ‘‘We're so happy this restaurant is here,’ confided another matriarch when I inquired about the twisty little phyllo-pastry purse athwart her salad of Asian pear and gleaming field greens.’
    • ‘Grenada lay athwart vital US sea lanes, thus threatening all transatlantic trade.’
    • ‘The old men pose athwart a water wheel.’
    • ‘I glance in the mirror and find, to my disappointment, that she's still athwart the bike.’
  • 2In opposition to; counter to.

    ‘these statistics run sharply athwart conventional presumptions’
    • ‘They can, however, have happier endings once enough people stand athwart the system, and yell stop.’
    • ‘At a time when America's elites said that the United States was in an irreversible decline, and the rest of us should just get used to it, Ronald Reagan stood athwart what was then considered the tide of history and said: ‘No.’’
    • ‘In any case, the belief that memorials should endure, and serve as warning and beacon to successive generations, runs athwart the commitment to a particular segment of the public and its expressive needs.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, without the ‘Language Police’ standing athwart language liberalization, every usage would slip into the dictionary.’
    • ‘It pretends to be pro-gay but stands athwart the path to full equality and social acceptance, crying, ‘No, no, don't go there’.’
    • ‘Rather, the dominant strain of principled conservatism has stood athwart history yelling, ‘Slow down!’’
    • ‘When it comes to its language, its cinema, and now its music, France has long stood athwart history crying ‘Stop!’’
    • ‘Together they stood athwart any measure that smacked of political centralization.’
    • ‘She tells me they're giving an award to the senator because he stands athwart conventional wisdom on many issues.’
    • ‘Like other empires of the past century, it has chosen to live not prudently, in peace and prosperity, but as a massive military power athwart an angry, resistant globe.’
    • ‘That was part of the necessary pattern, as was that he would stand athwart her when that time arrived.’
    • ‘At some points in history, the role of conservatism has been to be reactive and to stand athwart history yelling ‘stop’, Rove says.’


  • 1Across from side to side; transversely.

    ‘one table running athwart was all the room would hold’
    transversely, crossways, sideways, athwart, on the cross
    View synonyms
  • 2So as to be perverse or contradictory.

    ‘our words ran athwart and we ended up at cross purposes’
    • ‘Ultimately though, what is more intriguing about this work is the manner in which it runs athwart of some contemporary photography to instead de-emphasize overt expressivity.’
    • ‘As Harry made clear, being different meant neither better nor inferior, but athwart.’


Late Middle English: from a- on + thwart.