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Wide or broad?

RiverEnglish broad and Dutch breed are false friends. In Dutch, breed can refer to a physical or a metaphorical dimension:

Hoe breed is de rivier op dit punt?
De brede samenstelling van de commissie is een groot voordeel.

In English, wide is usually used for physical dimensions, and broad for metaphorical ones:

How wide is the river at this point?
We have reached broad agreement on this issue.

We also talk of a broad range, a broad spectrum, (a) broad consensus, a broad coalition, broad-minded, and so on.

The use of wide in the metaphorical sense is also possible, but more limited, occurring especially in conjunction with variety, range and selection.

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