Wide vs. Thick

Wide vs. Thick

Recently, we have written an article about narrow and thin, and this time we’ll look at the opposites – wide/broad and thick. Read on to know everything about the words…


Something that is thick has a large distance between its two opposite sides: a thick layer of dust, a thick slice of ham, thick walls, thick ice, etc.

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 8.59.22.pngJust like its opposite, thin, thick has many other meanings:

– The cardigan is very thick and warm. (= it’s made from thick cloth)

– The cream is thick. (= it has little water in it)

– They walked through thick forest. (= dense forest)

Thick black smoke was pouring out of the chimney. (= the smoke was difficult to see through)

– The airport was thick with police officers. (= it was full of police officers)

– His voice was thick with fury. (= you could clearly hear fury in his voice)

– Why are you so thick with him? (= friendly)

– She had a thick Scottish accent. (= a strong Scottish accent)

– He’s so thick! (= he’s so stupid (British, informal))


Something that is wide measures a large distance from one side or edge to the other: a wide street/boulevard, a wide area, a wide river, a wide road, wide feet, etc.

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 9.03.09.pngSomething can be both thick and wide. For example, a brick.

“Wide” is often used to mean some different things:

– She brought a wide smile to his face. (= bright/broad smile)

– His eyes were wide in disbelief. (if you open something wide (e.g. your eyes or mouth), you open it as far as possible or to the fullest extent)

– There is a wide range of tasks. (= a lot of different tasks)

– The report looks at women’s employment in its wider social context. (= concerning the basic aspects rather than the details)

– The case has attracted wide publicity. (=extensive publicity)

Something wide is broad: a broad/wide river, street, smile, shoulders, hips, sense, etc. A broad range of something is a wide range of something: I meet a broad/wide range of people in my job.

Still, the adjectives are not always interchangeable. For example, you can say “a broad accent” to mean a strong accent, but you cannot say a wide accent. You should also remember the following collocations:

  • a broad generalization: You make too many broad generalizations about people.
  • a broad outline: This is just a broad outline of the proposal.
  • a broad consensus: The issues were extremely complex and needed broad consensus. (= common, general consensus)
  • a broad hint: They’ve been giving broad hints about what to expect. (= very obvious hints)
  • in broad daylight: He was attacked in broad daylight. (= during the day, when everyone could see it)

Here are the phrases which need to be used with “wide”:

  • Wide awake: It was 3 a.m., but I was wide awake. (= fully awake)
  • Wide apart: He sat with his legs wide apart.
  • Wide open: The door was wide open when we got here.
  • Far and wide: His fame spread far and wide. (= over a large area)
  • Wide of the mark: The opinion polls were hopelessly wide of the mark. (= they were totally incorrect)

Generally speaking, in everyday English, “wide” is more common than “broad” (source: Longman Dictionary).

We just must be broad-minded. (wide-minded)


  1. to be thick on the ground – to exist in large numbers, amounts: Bloggers are thick on the ground there’s days.
  2. through thick and thin: in good times and bad times: My brother has stuck with me through thick and thin.
  3. to have a thick skin – be insensitive to criticism or insults: The job called for a thick skin and an aggressive personality. (to be thick-skinned = to have a thick skin)
  4. to be as thick as thieves – (of two or more people) very close or friendly: He and Mark were thick as thieves.
  5. to lay it on thick = to lay it on – to try to persuade someone that something is better, bigger, more important etc than it really is: I think he laid it on a bit thick with all the compliments.
  6. to be in the thick of sth. – to be in the most active or dangerous part of a particular situation or activity: She loves being in the thick of the action.
  7. thick and fast – rapidly and in great numbers: Replies are coming in thick and fast.

Do you have questions about thick, wide and broad? Feel free to ask them int he comment below. Thank you for reading! 😉

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