cross the line


cross the line or, cross a line


  • behave in a way that is not acceptable
  • overstep a boundary, standard, limit, or rule
  • go over the threshold of what is appropriate
  • be offensive or anti-social

Example Sentences

  1. This newspaper has crossed the line. This article is so offensive to so many people.
  2. Connie’s boyfriend has upset her badly. He really crossed the line this time.
  3. There’s no need to talk about my mother like that. You’re crossing the line now.
  4. The film was so rude, and we left about halfway through. It crossed the line several times over.
  5. Those guys know how to cross the line. I never want to go to one of their concerts again.
  6. The comedian really crossed the line. His idea of humour is appalling.
  7. The protesters who are crossing the line must be stopped.
  8. The politician’s language and rhetoric crossed the line, and it was reckless.


Crossing the line is an ancient maritime ritual. Historically when a crew member or passenger crossed the equator for the first time, they held a ceremony to commemorate the occasion. Nowadays modern sea travellers still do this by having a party and undoubtedly suffering much the next day.

The printed evidence of the phrase dates back to the 1604 (English Translated Edition of Edward Grimeston) in The Natural & Moral History of the Indies by José de Acosta, initially published in 1589. It reads:

“For he steeped in all the lore of the ancient philosophers concerning the unbearable heat of the burning zone. He crossed the line in March, and, to his surprise he was so cold that he was obliged to go into the sun to get warm, where he laughed at Aristotle and his philosophy.”

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