broad and wide

physical distance

To talk about the physical distance from one side of something to the other,
we more often use

  • We live in a very wide street. The car’s too wide for the garage.

Broad can also be used in this physical sense, especially in more formal

  • Across the broad valley, the mountains rose blue and mysterious.
  • She wore a simple green dress with a broad black belt. 

Note also: broad shoulders; a broad back; wide eyes; a wide mouth.

Wide is used in expressions of measurement: note the word order.

  • The river is about half a mile wide. (NOT … wide half a mile.)

abstract meanings

Both words can express more abstract meanings.

Common expressions:
broad agreement (= agreement on most important points)
broad-minded (= tolerant) broad daylight (= full, bright daylight)
a wide variety/range (of opinions etc)


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