Intersection and crossroads

Are there any differences between the two words?

Thank you!!!

In American English if we are talking about the place where roads intersect we only really say intersection. I think crossroads is more commonly used to describe a situation where you must make a decision between 2 or more options or “paths to take”. Crossroads can also be used to describe the spiritual realm between life and death. You might still hear crossroads used to describe an intersection in the name of a place or location though.

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Basically ‘crossroads’ is more archaic, and tends to have a sense of something you would encounter on foot, especially in old folk stories, and, as octopusbuddy says, tends towards more metaphorical use these days. Whereas ‘intersection’ is more modern and tends to have a sense of something you would encounter while driving. At any rate, you wouldn’t meet the devil at an intersection :slight_smile:

Crossroads would be where two streets/roads cross. Intersection could have 2 or more roads involved. The crossroads would intersect perpendicularly (at least how I’ve ever used the word or read the word). Typically the word is used to describe two roads crossing in a rural/country atmosphere…at least in the U.S.

A simplification would be that a desolate intersection where there are few, if any, discernible landmarks beyond the roads themselves is a crossroads.

You make a good point. I think this is a word that probably varies a lot in usage (even within the US) based on region. I am from a rural area in the Northeast and I don’t typically hear it used in this context. Many rural or isolated communities use antiquated terminology more frequently but it is not always consistent from region to region or even town to town. When I was growing up we would joke that we get everything 20 years after the rest of the world but there is actually some truth to it. In rural areas cultural trends (like word usage) take longer to be adopted or to “make their way up here”. Likewise older traditions tend to remain long after the rest of the country forgot them.

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I grew up mostly in upstate New York and we never used the term crossroads up there. My first experience was with the blues song “Crossroads” by Robert Johnson. So I always picture two roads meeting in the rural south with only farmland all around and nothing to see for miles.

I’ve lived in Memphis and Texas now too. It’s not really used anymore, at least when talking with others. I think the lack of ruralness at play here and more modern roadways, traffic lights, etc.

I think the main usage nowadays goes to your post below as a decision point.