The Info List - Cross

A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally. A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed a saltire in heraldic terminology.


1 Name 2 History

2.1 Pre-Christian 2.2 Christian cross

3 Cross-like marks and graphemes 4 Cross-like emblems 5 Notable formations known as "cross" 6 Physical gestures 7 See also 8 References

8.1 Notes 8.2 Sources

9 External links

Name[edit] The word cross is recorded in 10th-century Old English
Old English
as cros, exclusively for the instrument of Christ's crucifixion, replacing the native Old English
Old English
word rood. The word's history is complicated; it appears to have entered English from Old Irish, possibly via Old Norse, ultimately from the Latin crux (or its accusative crucem and its genitive crucis), "stake, cross". The English verb to cross arises from the noun c. 1200, first in the sense "to make the sign of the cross"; the generic meaning "to intersect" develops in the 15th century. The Latin word was, however, influenced by popular etymology by a native Germanic word reconstructed as *krukjo (English crook, Old English crycce, Old Norse
Old Norse
krokr, Old High German krucka). This word, by conflation with Latin crux, gave rise to Old French crocier (modern French crosse), the term for a shepherd's crook, adopted in English as crosier. Latin crux referred to the gibbet where criminals were executed, a stake or pole, with or without transom, on which the condemned were impaled or hanged, but more particularly a cross or the pole of a carriage.[1] From this word was derived the Latin verb crucio "to put to death on the cross" or (more frequently) "to put to the rack, to torture, torment" especially in reference to mental troubles.[2] The field of etymology is of no help in any effort to trace a supposed original meaning of crux.[3] A crux can be of various shapes: from a single beam used for impaling or suspending (crux simplex) to the various composite kinds of cross (crux compacta) made from more beams than one. The latter shapes include not only the traditional †-shaped cross (the crux immissa), but also the T-shaped cross (the crux commissa or Tau
Cross), which the Early Christian descriptions of the execution cross indicate as the normal form in use at that time, and the X-shaped cross (the crux decussata or saltire). The Greek equivalent of Latin crux "stake, gibbet" is σταυρός stauros, found in texts of four centuries or more before the gospels and always in the plural number to indicate a stake or pole. From the first century BC it is used to indicate an instrument used in executions. The Greek word is used in Early Christian descriptions of the execution cross, which indicate that its normal shape was similar to the Greek letter tau (Τ).[4][5][6][7] History[edit] Pre-Christian[edit]

Bronze Age "wheel pendants" in the shape of the "sun cross" (Urnfield culture, 2nd millennium BC).

Due to the simplicity of the design (two intersecting lines), cross-shaped incisions make their appearance from deep prehistory; as petroglyphs in European cult caves, dating back to the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, and throughout prehistory to the Iron Age.[citation needed] Also of prehistoric age are numerous variants of the simple cross mark, including the crux gammata with curving or angular lines, and the Egyptian crux ansata with a loop. Speculation has associated the cross symbol – even in the prehistoric period – with astronomical or cosmological symbology involving "four elements" (Chevalier, 1997) or the cardinal points, or the unity of a vertical axis mundi or celestial pole with the horizontal world (Koch, 1955). Speculation of this kind became especially popular in the mid- to late-19th century in the context of comparative mythology seeking to tie Christian mythology
Christian mythology
to ancient cosmological myths. Influential works in this vein included G. de Mortillet (1866),[8] L. Müller (1865),[9] W. W. Blake (1888),[10] Ansault (1891),[11] etc.

Archaic cuneiform
Archaic cuneiform
character LAK-617: a cruciform arrangement of five boxes; scribes could use the central, larger box as container for other characters.

In the European Bronze Age
European Bronze Age
the cross symbol appeared to carry a religious meaning, perhaps as a symbol of consecration, especially pertaining to burial.[12] The cross sign occurs trivially in tally marks, and develops into a number symbol independently in the Roman numerals
Roman numerals
(X "ten"), the Chinese rod numerals (十 "ten") and the Brahmi numerals
Brahmi numerals
("four", whence the numeral 4). In the Phoenician alphabet
Phoenician alphabet
and derived scripts, the cross symbol represented the phoneme /t/, i.e. the letter taw, which is the historical predecessor of Latin T. The letter name taw means "mark", presumably continuing the Egyptian hieroglyph
Egyptian hieroglyph
"two crossed sticks" (Gardiner Z9).[13] According to W. E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, worshippers of Tammuz in Chaldea
and thereabouts used the cross as symbol of that god.[14][15] Christian cross[edit] Main article: Christian cross Further information: Instrument of Jesus' crucifixion, Early Christian symbols, Christogram, and Christian cross
Christian cross

Early use of a globus cruciger on a solidus minted by Leontios
(r. 695–698); on the obverse, a stepped cross in the shape of a Iota Eta monogram.

The shape of the cross (crux, stauros "stake, gibbet"), as represented by the letter T, came to be used as a "seal" or symbol of Early Christianity by the 2nd century.[16] Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
in the early 3rd century calls it τὸ κυριακὸν σημεῖον ("the Lord's sign") he repeats the idea, current as early as the Epistle of Barnabas, that the number 318 (in Greek numerals, ΤΙΗ) in Genesis 14:14 was a foreshadowing (a "type") of the cross (the letter Tau) and of Jesus (the letters Iota Eta).[17] Clement's contemporary Tertullian
rejects the accusation that Christians are crucis religiosi (i.e. "adorers of the gibbet"), and returns the accusation by likening the worship of pagan idols to the worship of poles or stakes.[18] In his book De Corona, written in 204, Tertullian tells how it was already a tradition for Christians to trace repeatedly on their foreheads the sign of the cross.[19] While early Christians used the T-shape to represent the cross in writing and gesture, the use of the Greek cross
Greek cross
and Latin cross, i.e. crosses with intersecting beams, appears in Christian art towards the end of Late Antiquity. An early example of the cruciform halo, used to identify Christ in paintings, is found in the Miracles of the Loaves and Fishes mosaic of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (6th century). The Patriarchal cross, a Latin cross
Latin cross
with an additional horizontal bar, first appears in the 10th century. A wide variation of cross symbols is introduced for the purposes of heraldry beginning in the age of the Crusades.[20] Cross-like marks and graphemes[edit] Further information: X mark The cross mark is used to mark a position, or as a check mark, but also to mark deletion. Derived from Greek Chi are the Latin letter X, Cyrillic Kha and possibly runic Gyfu. Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs
involving cross shapes include ankh "life", ndj "protect" and nfr "good; pleasant, beautiful". Sumerian cuneiform
Sumerian cuneiform
had a simple cross-shaped character, consisting of a horizontal and a vertical wedge (𒈦), read as maš "tax, yield, interest"; the superposition of two diagonal wedges results in a decussate cross (𒉽), read as pap "first, pre-eminent" (the superposition of these two types of crosses results in the eight-pointed star used as the sign for "sky" or "deity" (𒀭), DINGIR). The cuneiform script has other, more complex, cruciform characters, consisting of an arrangement of boxes or the fourfold arrangement of other characters, including the archaic cuneiform characters LAK-210, LAK-276, LAK-278, LAK-617 and the classical sign EZEN (𒂡).[21] Phoenician tāw is still cross-shaped in Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
and in some Old Italic scripts
Old Italic scripts
( Raetic
and Lepontic), and its descendant T becomes again cross-shaped in the Latin minuscule t. The plus sign (+) is derived from Latin t via a simplification of a ligature for et "and" (introduced by Johannes Widmann
Johannes Widmann
in the late 15th century). The letter Aleph
is cross-shaped in Aramaic and paleo-Hebrew. Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian hieroglyphs
with cross-shapes include Gardiner Z9 – Z11 ("crossed sticks", "crossed planks"). Other, unrelated cross-shaped letters include Brahmi
ka (predecessor of the Devanagari
letter क) and Old Turkic (Orkhon) d² and Old Hungarian b, and Katakana
ナ na and メme. The multiplication sign (×), often attributed to William Oughtred (who first used it in an appendix to the 1618 edition of John Napier's Descriptio) apparently had been in occasional use since the mid 16th century.[22] Other typographical symbols resembling crosses include the dagger or obelus (†), the Chinese (十, Kangxi radical 24) and Roman (X) ten. Unicode
has a variety of cross symbols in the "Dingbat" block (U+2700–U+27BF) :

✕ ✖ ✗ ✘ ✙ ✚ ✛ ✜ ✝ ✞ ✟ ✠ ✢ ✣ ✤ ✥

The Miscellaneous Symbols block (U+2626 to U+262F) adds three specific Christian cross
Christian cross
variants, viz. the Patriarchal cross
Patriarchal cross
(☦), Cross
of Lorraine (☨) and " Cross
of Jerusalem" (implemented as Cross
potent, ☩). Cross-like emblems[edit] The following is a list of cross symbols, except for variants of the Christian cross
Christian cross
and Heraldic crosses, for which see the dedicated lists at Christian cross
Christian cross
variants and Crosses in heraldry, respectively.

Crosses as emblems and symbols

Picture Cross
name Description

Ankh The ankh or crux ansata, an Egyptian hieroglyph
Egyptian hieroglyph
representing "life".

Basque cross The Basque cross
Basque cross
or lauburu.

the Sun cross The "sun cross" or "wheel cross" appears with some regularity in prehistoric European artefacts, usually interpreted as a solar symbol, perhaps representing the spoked wheel of the Sun chariot.


The swastika or crux gammata (in heraldry fylfot), historically used as a symbol in Buddhism, Jainism
and Hinduism, and widely popular in the early 20th century as a symbol of good luck or prosperity before adopted as a symbol of Nazism
in the 1920s and 30s.

As a design element

Picture Cross
name Description

Compass rose A compass rose, sometimes called a windrose, is a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions and often appears as a cross tapering to triangular points.

Crossed keys Symbol of the Papacy used in various emblems representing the keys to heaven.

Crossed swords The crossed swords symbol (⚔ at Unicode
U+2694) is used to represent battlegrounds on maps. It is also used to show that person died in battle or that a war machine was lost in action. Two crossed swords also look like a Christian cross
Christian cross
and the mixed symbolism has been used in military decorations. It is also a popular way to display swords on a wall often with a shield in the center

Four-leaf clover Used as a symbol for luck as well as a stand in for a cross in various works.

Skull and crossbones Traditionally used to mark Spanish cemeteries; the symbol evolved to represent death/danger, poison, and pirates.

Notable formations known as "cross"[edit]

Crux, or the Southern Cross, is a cross-shaped constellation in the Southern Hemisphere. It appears on the national flags of Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
and Samoa. Notable free-standing Christian crosses (or Summit crosses): The tallest cross, at 152.4 metres high, is part of Francisco Franco's monumental "Valley of the Fallen", the Monumento Nacional de Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caidos in Spain. A cross at the junction of Interstates 57 and 70 in Effingham, Illinois, is purportedly the tallest in the United States, at 198 feet (60.3 m) tall.[23] The tallest freestanding cross in the United States is located in Saint Augustine, FL and stands 208 feet.[24] The tombs at Naqsh-e Rustam, Iran, made in the 5th century BC, are carved into the cliffside in the shape of a cross. They are known as the "Persian crosses".

Physical gestures[edit] Cross
shapes are made by a variety of physical gestures. Crossing the fingers of one hand is a common invocation of the symbol. The sign of the cross associated with Christian genuflection is made with one hand: in Eastern Orthodox tradition the sequence is head-heart-right shoulder-left shoulder, while in Oriental Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican tradition the sequence is head-heart-left-right. Crossing the index fingers of both hands represents and a charm against evil in European folklore. Other gestures involving more than one hand include the "cross my heart" movement associated with making a promise and the Tau
shape of the referee's "time out" hand signal. In Chinese-speaking cultures, crossed index fingers represent the number 10. See also[edit]

Astrological symbols
Astrological symbols
-the cross symbolically represents matter in many of these glyphs. Astronomical symbols
Astronomical symbols
-the crossmark may have been added to Christianize pagan god symbols. Cleché Cross-ndj (hieroglyph) Cross
and Crown Cross
burning Cross
necklace Crossbuck Crossroads (mythology) Crucifixion Cross cap
Cross cap
-topological surface

References[edit] Notes[edit]

^ Lewish and Short, A Latin Dictionary: crux ^ Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary: crucio ^ Gunnar Samuelsson, Crucifixion
in Antiquity (Mohr Siebeck 2011), p. 203 ^ The Epistle of Barnabas, IX ^ Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, book VI, chapter 11 ^ Adversus Marcionem, liber III, cap. XXII ^ Lucian, Trial in the Court of Vowels ^ G. de Mortillet, "Le signe de la croix avant le christianisme", Paris, 1866 ^ L. Müller, "Ueber Sterne, Kreuze und Kränze als religiöse Symbole der alten Kulturvölker", Copenhagen, 1865 ^ W. W. Blake, "The Cross, Ancient and Modern" New York, 1888 ^ Ansault, "Mémoire sur le culte de la croix avant Jésus-Christ", Paris, 1891.) ^ "In the bronze age we meet in different parts of Europe a more accurate representation of the cross, as conceived in Christian art, and in this shape it was soon widely diffused. This more precise characterization coincides with a corresponding general change in customs and beliefs. The cross is now met with, in various forms, on many objects: fibulas, cinctures, earthenware fragments, and on the bottom of drinking vessels. De Mortillet is of opinion that such use of the sign was not merely ornamental, but rather a symbol of consecration, especially in the case of objects pertaining to burial. In the proto-Etruscan cemetery of Golasecca every tomb has a vase with a cross engraved on it. True crosses of more or less artistic design have been found in Tiryns, at Mycenæ, in Crete, and on a fibula from Vulci." O. Marucchi, "Archæology of the Cross
and Crucifix", Catholic Encyclopedia (1908). ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 June 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.  ^ Vine, William Edwy (1940). "Cross, Crucify". Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Retrieved 2016-10-16. The shape of the [two beamed cross] had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt.  ^ See also Abram Herbert Lewis, Paganism surviving in Christianity, G.P. Putnam's sons, 1892, pp 237, 238. ^ "The cross as a Christian symbol or 'seal' came into use at least as early as the second century (see "Apost. Const." iii. 17; Epistle of Barnabas, xi.-xii.; Justin, "Apologia," i. 55-60; "Dial. cum Tryph." 85-97); and the marking of a cross upon the forehead and the chest was regarded as a talisman against the powers of demons (Tertullian, "De Corona," iii.; Cyprian, "Testimonies," xi. 21-22; Lactantius, "Divinæ Institutiones," iv. 27, and elsewhere). Accordingly the Christian Fathers had to defend themselves, as early as the second century, against the charge of being worshipers of the cross, as may be learned from Tertullian, "Apologia," xii., xvii., and Minucius Felix, "Octavius," xxix. Christians used to swear by the power of the cross. CROSS:, Jewish Encyclopaedia. ^ "Clement of Alexandria: Stromata, Book 6". Earlychristianwritings.com. Retrieved 2016-06-18.  ^ Apology., chapter xvi. "Then, if any of you think we render superstitious adoration to the cross, in that adoration he is sharer with us. If you offer homage to a piece of wood at all, it matters little what it is like when the substance is the same: it is of no consequence the form, if you have the very body of the god. And yet how far does the Athenian Pallas differ from the stock of the cross, or the Pharian Ceres as she is put up uncarved to sale, a mere rough stake and piece of shapeless wood? Every stake fixed in an upright position is a portion of the cross; we render our adoration, if you will have it so, to a god entire and complete. We have shown before that your deities are derived from shapes modelled from the cross." Sed et qui crucis nos religiosos putat, consecraneus noster erit. Cum lignum aliquod propitiatur, viderit habitus, dum materiae qualitas eadem sit; viderit forma, dum id ipsum dei corpus sit. Et tamen quanto distinguitur a crucis stipite Pallas Attica, et Ceres Pharia, quae sine effigie rudi palo et informi ligno prostat? Pars crucis est omne robur, quod erecta statione defigitur; nos, si forte, integrum et totum deum colimus. Diximus originem deorum vestrorum a plastis de cruce induci. ^ "At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign" (De Corona, chapter 3) ^ William Wood Seymour, "The Cross
in Heraldry", The Cross
in Tradition, History, and Art (1898). ^ An example of a cruciform arrangement of a character that is itself cruciform is the ligature "EZEN x KASKAL squared", encoded by Unicode at U+120AD (𒂭). ^ Florian Cajori, A History of Mathematical Notations Dover Books on Mathematics (1929), 251f. ^ "The Cross
Foundation Midwest Christian Monument Crucifix
Spiritual Meditation Fellowship Retreat". crossusa.org. Retrieved 18 June 2016.  ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 


Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin ISBN 0-14-051254-3. Drury, Nevill (1985). Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult. Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-062093-5. Koch, Rudolf (1955). The Book of Signs. Dover, NY. ISBN 0-486-20162-7. Webber, F. R. (1927, rev. 1938). Church Symbolism: an explanation of the more important symbols of the Old and New Testament, the primitive, the mediaeval and the modern church. Cleveland, OH. OCLC 236708.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Crosses.

Seiyaku.com, all Crosses - probably the largest collection on the Internet Variations of Crosses - Images and Meanings Cross
& Crucifix
- Glossary: Forms and Topics Nasrani.net, Indian Cross Freetattoodesigns.org, The Cross
in Tattoo Art The Christian Cross
of Jesus Christ: Symbols of Christianity, Images, Designs and representations of it as objects of devotion

v t e

Christian cross
Christian cross

In modern use

Anchored/St. Clement's Cross Anuradhapura cross Cross
of the Archangels Archiepiscopal cross Armenian Cross Arrow/Barby Cross Bolnisi cross Cross
bottony Branch cross Byzantine cross Calvary cross Canterbury cross Catherine wheel Caucasian Albanian Cross Celtic cross Cercelée Cross
of St. Chad Coptic cross Cross
crosslet Cross
crosslet fitchy Cross
and Crown Crucifix Cruciform halo Double cross Cross
of the Evangelists Cross
fitchy Cross
fleury Cross fleury
Cross fleury
fitchy St. Florian Cross Forked cross Cross
fourchy Fylfot St. George's Cross Globus cruciger Gnostic cross Grapevine/St. Nino's Cross Greek cross Huguenot cross St. James/Santiago Cross Jerusalem/Crusaders' cross Jerusalem cross
Jerusalem cross
(variant) Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
cross Cross
of St. John Latin/Roman cross Macedonian Cross Maltese cross Marian Cross Maronite Cross Cross
moline Nordic Cross Cross
of Novgorod Occitan cross Orthodox cross
Orthodox cross
(Bulgarian) Orthodox cross
Orthodox cross
(Greek) Orthodox cross
Orthodox cross
(Slavic) Papal cross Cross
patonce St. Patrick's Saltire Cross
pattée Cross pattée
Cross pattée
fitchée Patriarchal cross Cross
of St. Peter Cross
of St. Philip Pommy cross Portate cross/ Cross
of St. Gilbert Cross
potent Ringed cross Cross
quadrate Cross
of Salem Saltire/St. Andrew's Cross Serbian cross Tau/St. Anthony's Cross St. Thomas Cross Syriac cross


Avellane cross Avis cross Brigid's cross Carolingian cross Consecration crosses Coptic cross Cross
and Crown Cuthbert's pectoral cross Early Coptic cross Engrailed cross Cross
erminée Gammadion Crux
gemmata Saint Julian's cross Lazarus' cross Lorraine cross Cross
of Neith Cross
of Peñalba Pierced cross Pierced cross quarterly Knights Templar cross Teutonic Order cross Two-barred cross Victory Cross Voided cross

By function

Altar cross Blessing cross Conciliation cross Crosses in heraldry

Nordic Pisan

High cross Market cross Mercat cross Memorial cross Mission cross Monumental cross Pectoral cross Plague cross Processional cross Rood/Triumphal cross Summit cross Wayside cross

Christograms, Chrismons

Chi Rho Christogram IX monogram Labarum Signum manus Staurogram/Monogrammatic cross/ Tau

See also

Ankh Armenian eternity sign Balkenkreuz Irminsul Kolovrat Mjölnir Odinic fylfot Rose Cross Sauwastika Scientology cross Shamrock Shield of the Trinity Sunwheel swastika Sun cross Swastika Triskel