Toward vs Across - What's the difference?

toward | across |

As prepositions the difference between toward and across

is that toward is moving in the direction of (but not necessarily arriving at) while across is to, toward or from the far side of (something that lies between two points of interest).

As a adjective toward

is (obsolete) future; to come.

As a adverb across is

from one side to the other.

As a noun across is

(crosswords) a clue whose solution runs horizontally in the grid.

Other Comparisons: What's the difference?




(en-prep) (mainly in American English)
  • In the direction of.
  • :
  • *(Bible), (w) xxiv. 1
  • *:He set his face toward the wilderness.
  • *
  • *:Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.
  • In relation to (someone or something).
  • :
  • *(Bible), (w)
  • *:His eye shall be evil toward his brother.
  • For the purpose of attaining (an aim).
  • :
  • Located close to; near (a time or place).
  • :
  • *(Jonathan Swift) (1667–1745)
  • *:I am toward nine years older since I left you.
  • Synonyms

    * towards

    Usage notes

    * Although some have tried to discern a semantic distinction between the words (term) and (towards), the difference is merely dialectal. (term) is more common in American English and (towards) is the predominant form in British English.


  • (obsolete) Future; to come.
  • * 1590 , Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene , II.iv:
  • ere that wished day his beame disclosd, / He either enuying my toward good, / Or of himselfe to treason ill disposd / One day vnto me came in friendly mood [...].
  • (dated) Approaching, coming near; impending; present, at hand.
  • * Shakespeare
  • Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward ?
  • * 1843 , '', book 2, ch. XV, ''Practical — Devotional
  • On the morrow […] orders the Cellerarius to send off his carpenters to demolish the said structure brevi manu , and lay up the wood in safe keeping. Old Dean Herbert, hearing what was toward , comes tottering along hither, to plead humbly for himself and his mill.
  • Yielding, pliant; docile; ready or apt to learn; not froward.
  • (obsolete, or, archaic) Promising, likely; froward.
  • Why, that is spoken like a toward prince. ? Shakespeare.


    * American English




    (English prepositions)
  • To, toward or from the far side of (something that lies between two points of interest).
  • On the opposite side of (something that lies between two points of interest).
  • (Southern US, AAVE)  On the opposite side, relative to something that lies between, from (a point of interest).
  • * 1994 June 21, Thong P Tong <[email protected]>, "Re: Battle Tech Center", message-ID <[email protected]>, , Usenet []:
  • And make sure you're parked across the mall in the outside lot. Last time I was there, I parked in a parking structure and paid an arm and a leg for it.
  • * 1995 , (Ronald Kessler), Inside the White House , 1996 edition, ISBN 0671879197, page 243 []:
  • On another occasion, Clinton asked to drive him to Chelsea's school, Booker Elementary, where Clinton met the department store clerk and climbed into her car.
    "I parked across the entrance and stood outside the car looking around, about 120 feet from where they were parked in a lot that was pretty well lit," Patterson recalled. "They stayed in the car for thirty to forty minutes."
  • From one side to the other within (a space being traversed).
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=8 , passage=I corralled the judge, and we started off across the fields, in no very mild state of fear of that gentleman's wife, whose vigilance was seldom relaxed. And thus we came by a circuitous route to Mohair, the judge occupied by his own guilty thoughts, and I by others not less disturbing.}}
  • At or near the far end of (a space).
  • * 2004 , (Josephine Cox), Lovers and Liars , ISBN 0060525479, page 78 []:
  • "Mam's baking and Cathleen's asleep. I've got a pile of washing bubbling in the copper, so I'd best be off." With that she was across the room and out the door.
  • Spanning.
  • Throughout.
  • * {{quote-magazine, year=2012, month=March-April, author=Anna Lena Phillips, volume=100, issue=2, page=172
  • , magazine=(American Scientist) , title= Sneaky Silk Moths , passage=Last spring, the periodical cicadas emerged across eastern North America. Their vast numbers and short above-ground life spans inspired awe and irritation in humans—and made for good meals for birds and small mammals.}}
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-21, author= Chico Harlan
  • , volume=189, issue=2, page=30, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title= Japan pockets the subsidy … , passage=Across Japan, technology companies and private investors are racing to install devices that until recently they had little interest in: solar panels. Massive solar parks are popping up as part of a rapid build-up that one developer likened to an "explosion."}}
  • So as to intersect or pass through or over at an angle.
  • * 2010 , (Alex Bledsoe), The Girls with Games of Blood , , ISBN 9780765323842, page 147 []:
  • He parked across the end of the driveway, blocking her in.

    Derived terms

    * across-the-board * come across * get across * put across * put one across * run across


  • From one side to the other.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-20, volume=408, issue=8845, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Welcome to the plastisphere , passage=[The researchers] noticed many of their pieces of [plastic marine] debris sported surface pits around two microns across . Such pits are about the size of a bacterial cell. Closer examination showed that some of these pits did, indeed, contain bacteria, […].}}
  • On the other side.
  • In a particular direction.
  • (crosswords) Horizontally.
  • Noun

  • (crosswords) A clue whose solution runs horizontally in the grid.
  • I solved all of the acrosses , but then got stuck on 3 down.