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Across means from side to side on an object or space. Not up and down. Not back and forth. But side to side.

Of course, if you turn the object in question 90 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise, what was up and down on the object is now across the object, and vice versa. And if you lie the object on its side without rotating it either clockwise or counter-clockwise, what was back and forth is now across. Or maybe it’s up and down. I have trouble reorienting objects in my head. Never mind. You know what I mean.

Well, that was a lot of silly nonsense, wasn’t it? But, hopefully you get the picture. Now, if you turn the picture 90 degrees … Oh, stop.

Considering a slightly different meaning of across, if you say someone or something is across from you, you mean that you are face to face with him, her or it, but there is something, possibly empty space, between you. Of course, objects don’t have faces so it’s hard to be face to face with one, but don’t be a stickler. You get the point.

Now, if you turn the person upside down they’ll almost certainly become very upset with you unless they are into that sort of thing.

In a crossword puzzle, an across clue is for a word that runs horizontally on the page rather than vertically, assuming you are holding the page vertically with the top of the page on top. The clues for the vertical words when the paper is held in this orientation are called down clues. However, I’d recommend not holding the page vertically because it’s hard to write on the page to fill in the words if you do. It’s much better to lie the paper flat on a table.

Apropos of nothing, I wonder if any crossword puzzles have ever included a word—across or down—that was nine letters long and had as it’s clue, “a type of puzzle using words?” That’s way too meta for my taste.

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