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Caught in the crosshairs or cross hairs

  • Caught in the crosshairs or cross hairs is an idiom that is less than 100 years old. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom caught in the crosshairs or cross hairs, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

     

    Caught in the crosshairs or cross hairs means to be a target for criticism or attack. Someone who is caught in the crosshairs or cross hairs is the subject of negative attention. The expression caught in the crosshairs or cross hairs came into use in the mid-20th century and alludes to the crosshairs or cross hairs in a gun sight that must align when aiming at a target. Caught in the crosshairs is generally considered to be the British spelling; caught in the cross hairs is generally considered to be the American spelling, though the word is sometimes seen hyphenated as cross-hairs.

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    Examples

    Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorneys Kari Burks and Justin Edwards contended Slaughter was inadvertently caught in the cross hairs of a long-standing gang rivalry between Fortiz and a friend who went with him to the Rumba Latina Club to pick up a forgotten debit card on Feb. 2, 2019. (Wichita Eagle)

    Meanwhile, as the UK and the European Union try to hammer out a Brexit deal in the next three weeks, Ahmad said that he did not expect Jamaica to get caught in the cross hairs. (Jamaica Gleaner)

    Pilloried for his failed stint as Brazil’s health minister and caught in the crosshairs of a Senate probe on the pandemic, General Eduardo Pazuello sought refuge last week before a friendly audience at a political rally in Rio de Janeiro. (Reuters)


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