Catty-corner, kitty-corner

Catty-corner, kitty-corner, and cater-cornered all derive from the Middle English catre-corner, literally meaning four-cornered. All three forms are used throughout the English-speaking world. They usually mean positioned diagonally across a four-way intersection, but they can work in other contexts relating to one thing being diagonal from another.

While most dictionaries recommend cater-corneredkitty-corner and catty-corner are more common in actual usage. The past-participial forms—i.e., kitty-cornered and catty-cornered—might be more grammatically correct, but the uninflected forms are more common.


Kitty-corner from Brownstone in Fort Worth, Fred’s serves terrific sloppy burgers and great fries. [Dallas Morning News]

The child then pointed catty-corner across Santa Rosa Avenue. [Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

His trailer is cater-cornered to the crime scene, a fact he admitted shook him a little. [Columbia Daily Tribune]

Cowboys Stadium technically is in Arlington, Texas—not Dallas—kitty-cornered from where the Giants won the World Series in November. [San Jose Mercury News]

14 thoughts on “Catty-corner, kitty-corner”

  1. Hmmm – I think this might be a North American thing – I think in Australian (and possibly) British English you would only ever say “diagonally opposite”. I lived in the States for a while and had no idea what it meant. I do use it from time to time and hope it will spread!

    • True — never come across it here in Britain (“diagonally opposite” would be the only description for this situation), and unlike many of the other transatlantic terms that one might come across online, I’ve never actually heard of it at all before clicking on this Grammarist link!

      • I have mostly noticed that it is older people who say ‘catty corner.’ Younger people often do not know what it means.

  2. In the American South, “Catty-cornered” means something that is not squared; not set at 90 degree angle(s). If speaking of something that is not aligned properly, that would be “Wompie-Jacked.”

  3. I was never really sure how to spell this one. I have only heard it said. It sounded like ‘caddy corner’ although that made no sense. Then again, neither does ‘catty corner.’


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