crossed wires: meaning and explanation

When you get your wires crossed, you are confused about something or have misunderstood a person or a situation.

Although this expression can be used about an individual (e.g. I got my wires crossed), it is usually used to describe a situation in which two people have taken a different understanding from the same situation (such as when or where to meet each other). e.g. He wasn’t expecting me for hours – I suppose we got our wires crossed.

A good time to use this expression is when you are dealing with or explaining a misunderstanding. The expression is used to say that the situation is an accident, and no one is to blame, e.g. Oh well! We must have got our wires crossed I suppose.

This expression can also be used as a noun phrase – crossed wires. e.g. I waited for him for ages but he didn’t turn up. It’s a case of crossed wires I suppose.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Scotland

this face – we our otherwise.
Let's about this face face – we get our wires otherwise.

…Let’s talk about this face to face…

Let’s + verb is a very useful way of introducing a suggestion. e.g. Let’s have a takeaway tonight – I can’t be bothered to cook.

Discussion question

Write your answers to this question in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • When was the last time you got your wires crossed? What happened?

Photo by John Barkiple on Unsplash

Was this helpful?

Tagged in: