Main Difference – Breadth vs Width
Breadth is used to talk about measurements of larger entities and figurative entities while width is used to talk about the measurements of smaller entities and physical objects.
Breadth and width are two words that are commonly used when discussing the measurements of an object. However, it should be noted that both these words refer to the same thing, that is the distance or measurement from side to side of something; the lesser of two or the least of three dimensions of a body. This can be more easily understood by looking at the diagram below.
As seen from the diagram above, both width and breadth refer to the same thing. However, there is a subtle difference in the usage of these words. We’ll look at this difference between breadth and width, after discussing the meaning of these two words in depth.
Breadth / Width Meaning
These words refer to,
The measurement of an object from side to side.
“The boat was about 30 feet in breadth.”
“The yard was about seven feet in width.”
Wide range or extent
“He is noted for his breadth of vision.”
“Her width of experience makes her qualified for this position.”
Difference Between Breadth and Width
As explained above, both these words are used to discuss the side to side measurement. However, there is a slight difference in the usage here. ‘Breadth’ is generally reserved for things whose spans are especially large. For examples, room, or a garden can be described using ‘width’ while large geographical features like rivers and deserts are described using ‘breadth’.
Secondly, ‘width’ is generally used for physical entities while ‘breadth’ is often used to describe figurative things. However, this is not a strict rule, but a difference in usage. For example, “While tossing in some very classical and very contemporary, too, Wednesday’s program celebrated the breadth of American dance.”
According to Oxford dictionary, ‘Breadth’ also refers to a piece of cloth of standard or full width. For example, “The rest of the part of the sleeves freely hung down to the floor in a triangle breadth of cloth.” ‘Width’ also refers to “the sideways extent of a swimming pool as a measure of the distance swum.” For instance, “Each swimmer swam as many widths as they could during the time allocated.”
Breadth is used to describe the measurements of larger entities.
Width is used to describe the measurements of smaller entities.
Breadth is used to describe abstract entities.
Width is used to describe physical entities.
Breadth also refers to a fabric of standard width.
Width is used to indicate a measure of the distance swum.