Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Catercorner

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is catercorner. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Catercorner is used as both an adverb and adjective to describe things that are situated in a diagonal or oblique position. The word is a less common variant of kitty-corner.

// The elaborate water fountain is catercorner to the building’s entrance, so it’s the first thing you see when you enter the foyer.


“Let history record that it rained on the chilly-by-Southern-standards night the World Series came to Cobb County. Let it also reflect that nobody much cared. The Fall Classic graced Atlanta—and two different ballparks—with its presence five times in the ’90s. For the suburban stadium that sits catercorner from Cumberland Mall, this was all new.” — Mark Bradley, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 30 Oct. 2021

Did You Know?

Catercorner gets its first element from the Middle French noun quatre, meaning “four,” which English speakers modified to cater and applied to the four-dotted side of a die—a side important in several winning combinations in dice games. Perhaps because the four spots on a die can suggest an X, cater eventually came to be used dialectically with the meaning of “diagonal” or “diagonally”; cater was then combined with corner to form catercorner. Eventually the variants kitty-corner and catty-corner, which are now the more common forms, developed. Despite all appearances, these terms bear no etymological relation to our feline friends.

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