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Difference between Cross the T and Cross the t’s

cross the T—(Navy) cross ahead of enemy ship’s line of advance approximately at right angles, thus securing tactical advantages:

  • This maneuver, known as “crossing the T,” has been the dream of all admirals.

cross the t’s—

1. (also: stroke the t’s) draw the horizontal line across the upright of the letter “t”:

  • There was something familiar about the handwriting. The way the writer crossed the t’s too high.

2. (in the phrase “dot the i’s and cross the t’s”) be very thorough; meticulously stick to accepted routine:

  • They had been careful to engage the accounting firm and had really crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s.

Cf.: dot the last i and cross the last t— carefully finish a project:

  • Most of you are not quite ready to dot the last “i” and cross the last “t” of your thesis.