You might call it a “cross”, but I’m still going to call it an “X”

Raymond Chen

Raymond

PlayStation UK created a horrific uproar when they proclaimed that the 🞩 button on the PlayStation controller is called “cross”, and not “X”.

Sure, but I’m still going to call it “X”.

In the United States, the term “cross” is used to refer almost exclusively to the religious symbol 🕇 or shapes similar to it, with the same vertical orientation. It certainly is not commonly used to refer to the rotated symbol 🞩.¹ The name of the rotated symbol is almost uniformly “X”.

The game of Noughts and Crosses is called Tic-Tac-Toe in the States.

¹ We also do not use the word “cross” to mean “angry”. A sentence like “She was cross about the delay” is distinctly British English.

29 comments

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  • Avatar
    David Marshall

    See also St Andrew’s Cross or Saltire, the national flag of Scotland. Warning: searching for images of St Andrew’s Cross may be NSFW.

    • Avatar
      Adrián Arroyo Calle

      Not just the flag of Scotland: the Spanish Crown used to have a a flag which is also a cross, the Cross of Burgundy. But crosses doesn’t end here, the symbol + is greek cross, ✝ is a latin cross, x is a St Andrew’s cross, there’s also the Labarum, the Jerusalen cross, the Maltese cross,…

  • Avatar
    Chris Upchurch

    “We also do not use the word “cross” to mean “angry”. A sentence like “She was cross about the delay” is distinctly British English.”

    I have to disagree on this part. I do see “cross” used to mean angry by American English speakers. It may not be as common in American English, but it is not a purely British English word like “petrol” or “lift”.

  • Avatar
    Alex Martin

    > …on the PlatStation controller…

    Ah, Y-T typo, we meet again.

  • Avatar
    Alasdair Corbett

    You get that a lot in Japanese franchise crossovers as well – things like “Street Fighter X Tekken”, where the ‘X’ is meant to be pronounced “cross”, as in short for “crossover”.

  • Avatar
    Anton Smirnov

    What about differentiating PS’s 🞩 (A) from Xbox’s X (□) then?

  • Avatar
    David Walker

    A piece of wood used in construction might be called a “two by four”, written 2 x 4. But x is generally not called a cross in the US, with some exceptions, I am sure.

    When I see “Street Fighter X Tekken”, I know what it means, and I usually read it to myself as “Street fighter by (or with, or against) Tekken”.

    Bonus: What are the dimensions of a 2 x 4 ?

  • Avatar
    Ron ParkerMicrosoft employee

    But how do we say 𝑨×𝑩, where 𝑨 and 𝑩 are vectors?

    • Raymond Chen
      Raymond ChenMicrosoft employee

      True, there are niche uses, but in general, the x is not called a cross. That’s why I said “not commonly used” and “almost uniformly”.

  • Avatar
    Thomas Harte

    To be fair, between Xmas and Moto X, I can see why Sony UK has become confused and given the wrong name to its controller button.

  • Avatar
    Adam Rosenfield

    I wonder if Sony also pronounces the names of certain Apple products as “Mac O-S cross” and the “iPhone cross”.

  • Paul Herring
    Paul Herring

    So, if the × is pronounced “X” instead of “cross”, is the ○ pronounced “O” (or “zero”) instead of “circle.”

    • Raymond Chen
      Raymond ChenMicrosoft employee

      The ○ shape can be called “circle” or “O”. But the × shape is almost always called “X”, not “cross”. The name “cross” is generally reserved for the 🕇 orientation.