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Broad vs. Wide: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 28, 2024
"Broad" often refers to comprehensive or extensive scope, while "wide" specifically denotes physical breadth or wideness.

Key Differences

Broad is used to describe something that covers a large number or range of subjects, indicating extensiveness in scope or content. Wide, on the other hand, is typically used to denote the physical measurement of something from side to side, emphasizing its spatial extent.
In the context of discussions or thoughts, broad implies a comprehensive approach, encompassing a wide range of aspects or ideas. Conversely, wide is less commonly used in abstract contexts, usually referring to tangible dimensions like the width of a road or a door.
Broad can also suggest generality or lack of specificity, as in a broad statement or a broad overview. In contrast, wide is more precise, quantifying the extent of something's physical breadth, like a wide river or a wide gap.
When describing a person's interests or skills, broad implies a diverse range of abilities or knowledge areas. Wide, in similar contexts, might be used to describe physical expanses, such as a wide smile or wide eyes, rather than abstract qualities.
The usage of broad often carries a metaphorical or figurative sense, as in a broad understanding or broad implications. Wide, however, is commonly associated with literal, physical measurements, such as a wide hallway or a wide screen.

Comparison Chart

Usage Context

Often abstract, referring to scope or range
Primarily physical, referring to dimensions


Comprehensive, extensive, or general
Physical breadth or distance from side to side

Common Associations

Ideas, understanding, categories
Objects, spaces, measurements

Abstract vs. Physical

More abstract and metaphorical
More concrete and literal


Broad spectrum, broad overview
Wide road, wide gap

Broad and Wide Definitions


Wide in extent or scope.
The river was broad and slow-moving.


Covering a large area; extensive.
The storm caused wide damage across the region.


General without detail.
He gave a broad outline of the plan.


Encompassing a large number or variety; diverse.
The museum has a wide collection of artifacts.


Open and clear; not limited or narrow.
The discussion took a broad approach to the issue.


Having a great extent from side to side.
The bridge was too wide to cross on foot.


Covering a large number or range of subjects.
She has a broad knowledge of music genres.


Fully open or extended.
She opened her eyes wide in surprise.


Having a wide range or a comprehensive view.
The course offers a broad understanding of the subject.


Far from a target or mark.
His shot went wide of the goal.


Wide in extent from side to side
A broad river.
Broad shoulders.


Having a specified extent from side to side
A ribbon two inches wide.


Large in expanse; spacious
A broad lawn.


Extending over a great distance from side to side; broad
A wide road.
A wide necktie.


Can broad be used for physical dimensions?

Less commonly, it's more abstract.

What does broad mean?

Broad refers to extensive scope or wide range in subjects.

Is wide used in abstract contexts?

Rarely, it's typically for physical dimensions.

How is broad used in a sentence?

E.g., "He has broad interests."

What does wide mean?

Wide describes physical breadth or spatial extent.

What's a synonym for wide?

Broad or extensive, in physical contexts.

Does wide imply breadth?

Yes, it specifically refers to breadth or width.

Can broad describe a physical object?

Yes, but it's more common in abstract uses.

Does broad imply detail?

No, it often indicates a general or comprehensive view.

Is wide used metaphorically?

Less often, it's more literal.

Does broad mean the same as wide?

Not exactly, they have different primary uses.

How do you describe a wide area?

It's an area extensive in its physical dimensions.

How is wide used in construction?

To specify the physical width of structures or spaces.

How is wide used in a sentence?

E.g., "The door was wide open."

Can wide describe abstract concepts?

It's more suited for tangible, physical aspects.

Is broad used metaphorically?

Often, as in "broad implications."

How do you describe a broad perspective?

It's an approach that considers many aspects.

Can broad and wide be interchangeable?

In some contexts, but they have distinct nuances.

What's a synonym for broad?

Expansive or comprehensive.

How is broad used in academia?

To describe a wide-ranging study or understanding.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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