Etymology of "broad" = [approx.] "gal"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Jun 26 00:56:34 UTC 2008

Do any of the esteemed lexicographers or etymologists have a position
(or a notion) regarding the origin of "broad" as a slang term applied to
a woman?

I know of the following conjectures or possibilities:

(1) from "bawd";

(2) from adjective "broad" (referring to hips or whatever);

(3) from "broad" = "playing card"/"ticket" (etymology asserted in a 1914
citation in HDAS);

(4) from "abroad" or from "broad" = "journey";

(5) from German "Braut" (usually = "bride"), or some cognate.

Are there other contenders available?

Is there any solid etymology?

If not, is there a favorite or default hypothesis?

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society -

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