The word broad is usually used to denote or describe the size of something. It is sometimes used in describing women in a very judging way in this society. For example, a broad road. Where did the term broad come from and why is associated with the character of a woman in a negative sense? You will get to know all about broad slang in this article.
1. Meaning of Broad
Interestingly, the slang broad does not have a positive meaning to it. The term has been used in its usual sense since the late 14th century to describe, elongated objects and pathways. Later on, it was also used to describe a lake that was formed when a river expanded on a flat surface, like an open area. 1741 described it as a word that means the broad part of anything. (See Dead as a Doornail or Doorknob Meaning)
2. Where did the term Broad Come from?
In Old English usage, the word broad was written as brad and referred to something that is wide, extended, open, and flat. The origin of this word is believed to be from the word braidi, a Proto-Germanic which is the language of origin of the Germanic languages like Norweigan, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, etc., The first reference of the broad slang referring to women is traced to 1911. (See Pipe Dream Definition Origin)
3. Usage from the Broadway
Though the first derogatory usage was in 1911, the broad slang did not have a negative connotation until it sometime after the 1930s. Because in the 1930s, the term referred to the women who were working on Broadway, New York. These women were called Broads, and that was considered a compliment, an appreciation of the beauty of these women, aspiring to be a part of the theatrical and entertainment industry. (See 6 Female vs Male Sign Fun Facts)
4. Derogatory Use of Broad Slang
The derogatory usage of broad slang is derived from the time when broad was used to refer to what was called a meal ticket that signified a prostitute who provides for a pimp. This assumption is also from the fact that these meal tickets were actually poker cards, and the Queen card was specifically used. (See What does Pepega mean?)
Thus a woman who apparently had low morals and was easily sexually available, like how a prostitute is considered, was called a broad. The word also comes from the usage of a broadwife which refers to a woman, often a slave, away from her husband, who would thus be sexually used by her masters. The word referring to broad hips may also indicate the common irrational belief that a woman’s hips widen when she has multiple intercourses with different men. Also, check out the article on right of first night.
5. Current Use of the Term
As the broad slang refers to women with supposedly low morals, these days it is also used for referring to women who have male friends or are working in a male-dominated environment. Taking a stand for themselves and knowing when to attack and when to defend is considered a bad moral of women, and thus such women are also referred to as broad. If a woman doesn’t seem to have a man, or a husband, under whom she should function or relate, she is considered a broad, because a woman’s earned resources are largely believed to be earned by paying sexual favors to men. Also, check out different words for breasts.
Broad slang hence became a derogatory term used for women who have physical relationships with many men and also for women who have no morals and grace. Wherever did the term broad come from, it was surely not used in an insulting manner. (See Why Do We Have Armpit Hair?)