Where did this unusual phrase come from? How can you know something "across and along"? At first glance, the phrase does sound rather strange, but you can still explain its meaning.
What do they want to say with this
Most often, the expression is used when a person says that he has studied some area in all the subtleties and details. A vivid example of the use of this phrase is found in A.S. Pushkin: “The side is familiar to me,” answered the roadman, “thank God, it has been circled far and wide.” This means that he knows the whole district well, traveled all over it on his tarantass and is perfectly oriented here.
If you try to understand more deeply what "along and across" means, it is best to parse each word separately. So, the word "along" means "along the length, along the long side." In turn, "across" means "in width", or "along the short side". Of course, it is difficult to imagine that a person exploring the area will walk back and forth in straight lines, then where did this phrase come from?
If you imagine this phrase as an image, you can see how in the old days weavers wove canvases, laying longitudinal andcross threads. The interlacing of these threads was very strong, they fit tightly to each other. Perhaps this is where the phrase originated from? How closely the threads lie in the fabric, the area is studied in such detail.
Sometimes they say about people that they know them "across and along". Undoubtedly, this does not mean the study of the anatomical structure of the human body, although doctors may well say so. In everyday life, most likely, this phrase is used as a symbol of the fact that we know a person very well and have known him for a long time. Here you can draw an analogy with the saying "eat a pood of s alt" with someone. That is, to be with a person for a long time and study him well.
So close people, relatives or colleagues who have worked together for many years can say about each other. As a rule, over long years of living together or working together, people find themselves in many situations that help them to know in detail the character of a relative or colleague, his personal qualities and form a firm opinion about this person. Then we can safely say that "I know Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov across and along."
Other uses of the phrase
In dictionaries there are other meanings of this phrase. For example, there is a short prayer that a woman read, seeing off her husband on a long journey: “God take care of her husband far and wide, and without him I’ll never cross the threshold.”
When the foreman gives the task to the workers, he can tell them to study the instructions across and along - that is, in great detail andscrupulously. This emphasizes the importance of work.
Sometimes used as an expression of contradiction in something: "looks along, but lives across." That is, he says one thing, but does another, does the opposite. Or when a person expresses disagreement with someone's opinion.
The same phrase is used when something is strongly skewed or you need to find some thing in the room, when something is being studied in detail or a sheet of paper is covered tightly in different directions. As a rule, this happens if there is no more paper, but it is necessary to make notes.
How to distinguish "along" and "across"? When it comes, for example, to folding a sheet of paper first along the length and then along the width, or about folding a piece of fabric, then the sides are distinguished according to these parameters, respectively. In our case, the phrase does not apply to mechanical concepts, so we will not separate the words. It is enough to understand that it means “to know well, to study, to understand” a place, person, phenomenon or object. Or comprehensively study some topic or problem.
In old dictionaries, this phrase is written a little differently: "both along and across." However, the meaning is still the same.
And constantly people strive to ensure that this is how they know everything - in all details.