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From Middle English brood, brode, from Old English brād (broad, flat, open, extended, spacious, wide, ample, copious), from Proto-Germanic *braidaz (broad), of uncertain origin. Cognate with Scots braid (broad), West Frisian breed (broad), Saterland Frisian breed (broad), Low German breed (broad), breet, Dutch breed (broad), German breit (broad, wide), Danish, Swedish and Norwegian Bokmål bred (broad), Norwegian brei (broad), Icelandic breiður (broad, wide).



broad (comparative broader, superlative broadest)

  1. Wide in extent or scope.
    three feet broad
    the broad expanse of ocean
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 2, in The Celebrity:
      Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke. He was dressed out in broad gaiters and bright tweeds, like an English tourist, and his face might have belonged to Dagon, idol of the Philistines.
    • 2012 April 19, Josh Halliday, “Free speech haven or lawless cesspool – can the internet be civilised?”, in the Guardian:
      Julia Farrington, head of arts at Index on Censorship, argues that extra powers to ban violent videos online will "end up too broad and open to misapplication, which would damage freedom of expression".
    • 2013 June 28, Joris Luyendijk, “Our banks are out of control”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 3, page 21:
      Seeing the British establishment struggle with the financial sector is like watching an alcoholic […].  Until 2008 there was denial over what finance had become. […]  But the scandals kept coming, and so we entered stage three – what therapists call "bargaining". A broad section of the political class now recognises the need for change but remains unable to see the necessity of a fundamental overhaul. Instead it offers fixes and patches.
  2. Extended, in the sense of diffused; open; clear; full.
    • Bishop Porteus
      broad and open day
  3. Having a large measure of any thing or quality; unlimited; unrestrained.
    • John Locke
      a broad mixture of falsehood
  4. Comprehensive; liberal; enlarged.
    • D. Daggett
      The words in the Constitution are broad enough to include the case.
    • E. Everett
      in a broad, statesmanlike, and masterly way
  5. Plain; evident.
    a broad hint
  6. (writing) Unsubtle; obvious.
  7. Free; unrestrained; unconfined.
    • Shakespeare
      as broad and general as the casing air
  8. (dated) Gross; coarse; indelicate.
    a broad compliment; a broad joke; broad humour
  9. (of an accent) Strongly regional.
  10. (Gaelic languages) Velarized, i.e. not palatalized.


  • (Regarding occupied space, width of an object): thin, narrow
  • (Regarding body width): skinny
  • (Not palatalized): slender

Derived terms[edit]

Terms derived from broad (adjective)



broad (plural broads)

  1. (dated) A prostitute, a woman of loose morals.
  2. (US, colloquial, slang, sometimes dated) A woman or girl.
    Who was that broad I saw you with?
  3. (Britain) A shallow lake, one of a number of bodies of water in eastern Norfolk and Suffolk.
  4. A lathe tool for turning down the insides and bottoms of cylinders.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knight to this entry?)
  5. (Britain, historical) A British gold coin worth 20 shillings, issued by the Commonwealth of England in 1656.



See also[edit]




broad m (plural broiz)

  1. person from a country



broad f (plural broadoù)

  1. nation


Derived terms[edit]