Source: Ontario Small Claims Court - A Practical Guide (2011), p. 12.

(ii) Cross-examination of the Plaintiff

§1.32 Following the direct examination of the plaintiff, the defendant or his representative may then embark upon an examination of the plaintiff with two principal objectives in mind: either the destruction of the plaintiff's case through plaintiff's admissions or the advancement of the defendant's case, again through admissions. The defendant's examination of the plaintiff is called "cross-examination" or "cross-questioning". The scope of the cross- examination are the issues in the case. The defendant's representative, there- fore, may ask the plaintiff questions that relate to all matters at issue in the proceedings.

Abbreviate Cross Examination to CE. What motivated the choice of 'Cross'?

My guess: In a CE, the witness is not on the questioning lawyer's side, and so the lawyer must ask only questions that elicit a 'Yes/No' answer, to forestall any dodging by the witness. So the 'cross-' apparently suggests antipathy or enmity.

  • This is a question about English etymologies, better asked on the English SE. – user6726 Nov 11 '17 at 14:44
  • 1
    We have a tag for terminology, and we're okay with history questions. Asking questions about historic terminology specific to law should be fine. – Nij Nov 11 '17 at 20:20

So the 'cross-' apparently suggests antipathy or enmity.


In a CE, the witness is not on the questioning lawyer's side

Here is your answer. To get to the other side of something, such as a street or a river, one must cross it. It is cross-examination because the witness had been called by the other side.

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