Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Catty- or Kitty- Cornered?

I recently saw a post on Twitter where someone wrote 'cater' cornered.  I had to look that one up, never hearing it before.

Most people use 'kitty' or 'catty' cornered to describe the following situation:  something is diagonally across from something else.  There are other terms as well (catty, caddy, etc.) but I believe kitty-cornered and catty-cornered are the most common.

I think of it like the following picture of a table (at least this is what I was taught, growing up):

Jane is kitty/catty cornered from Sam.  Larry and Paul; Rose and Mary; Bob and Bill are all kitty/catty cornered.

However, I also saw where it could indicate the following:

This is an intersection, by means of an explanation:

According to Is it catty-cornered or kitty-cornered?, this scenario is more appropriate, meaning diagonal.

According to, 'cater-cornered' or 'catty-cornered' means diagonal or diagonally.  Originally, it came from the French word, 'cater' which means 'to set or move diagonally.  Middle French word 'catre.' means four.

I believe, from other things I read, that the term originally was a gambling term, using four dots on a die.

So which is it?  Catty-, cater-, or kitty-cornered?  A PhD candidate named Joshua Katz from North Carolina State (my husband's alma mater), came up with the answer--it depends on where you live.  Here are the results for kitty/catty cornered, as shown on the Harvard Press:

So, depending on where you live, you'll say something different.  And, to be honest, 'cater-cornered' is the closest to being correct, but very few people use this term.  I wonder if they use any of these terms in Europe or is this a North American thing?  I couldn't find any real data on Europe's usage of the term.

Very interesting.  So when you write, realize if you use the term, you're going to show where you grew up according to what you use. I grew up in Southern PA, so I use catty-cornered, but sometimes, change it up to be kitty-cornered, just because I've moved around a bit.  I don't want anyone to feel left out.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Catty-corner, kitty-corner
Kitty-Corner or Catty-Corner?
On Caddy-corner ... Or Whatever That Word Is
Beyond “Soda, Pop, or Coke” Regional Dialect Variation in the Continental US
22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From One Another
Is it catty-cornered or kitty-cornered?

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