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

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 26 15:58:50 UTC 2008

At 11:38 AM -0400 6/26/08, Marc Velasco wrote:
>I would've thought (2).  But I could see a crossing-over from (5) as a real
>possibility.  But if (3)'s the ticket, then, that's why they do the
>research, right?  And even if it was originally (3), then there's no reason
>why the humorous wouldn't've enjoyed the double entrendre with (2).
>However it originated, I'm fairly sure it was widely it's common
>understanding was cemented as (2) after the musical 'South Pacific' came
>out.  Ain't nothing like pop culture to change meanings around.

...lyrics that support my hypothesis that the right door is now (2),
but on the "whatever" rather than the "hips" disjunct--although
reasonable interpreters may differ.

Jon, who hasn't weighed in, would take this to be a reinterpretation,
as you suggest.  For those who don't have an HDAS Vol. I handy, the
relevant subentry reads as follows:

BROAD 2a. a sexually promiscuous woman; a prostitute, slut.
[Especially common in early use and prob. the original sense; now
subsumed by (b) ['a woman--often used contemptuously']]
1914 Jackson & Hellyer, Vocab. Crim. Slang.
A female confederate; a female companion, a woman of loose morals.
Broad is derived from the far-fetched metaphor of "meal ticket",
signifying a female provider for a pimp, from the fanciful
correspondence of a meal ticket to a railroad or other ticket.

If true, this is an etymology that essentially cries out for
reinterpretation, especially given the transparency of the folk
metonymy in (2).


>>  >>(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.
>>  >>
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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