"Broads" applied to women

Mary Knatterud knatt001 at MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU
Wed Apr 28 13:34:30 UTC 1999

Hi.  This is my first posting to the list, so I hope it's appropriate.
Does anyone have any insights into the current U.S. connotation of the noun
"broads" as applied to women?

I always thought it was derogatory, as does author Rosalie Maggio, whose
entry for it bluntly reads "broad (woman) no" (in _The Bias-Free Word
Finder: A Dictionary of Nondiscriminatory Language_, Boston: Beacon Press,
1991, p. 57).

But the _American Heritage Dictionary_ (3rd ed., 1992) simply lists it as
"slang" for "a woman or girl" and offers a positive illustration: "I use
'broad' as a moniker of respect for a woman who [knows] how to throw a mean
right" (James Wolcott)."

My question came up because of a recent newspaper article in which a local
teacher of the year fondly reminisces about the nuns who taught her math,
referring to them, as I recall, as "tough old broads."

Thanks for any comments or cites!

Ms. Mary E. Knatterud, Ph.D.
Research Associate and Assistant Professor
Department of Surgery
University of Minnesota Medical School
Minneapolis, MN
knatt001 at tc.umn.edu

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