Width vs. Breadth — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on November 2, 2023
Width refers to the measurement of something from side to side, while breadth often implies a wider sense of width, including a wider scope or range.

Key Differences

Width specifically measures the distance from one side of an object to the other, often at the widest point. It's a linear measurement and is used in various contexts like measuring a piece of fabric, a room, or an electronic device. Width is a fundamental dimension in geometric shapes and is often used in everyday language to describe how wide something is.
Breadth, while similar to width in denoting the distance from side to side, carries a slightly broader connotation. In physical measurements, it's often interchangeable with width, but breadth can also imply a more expansive range or variety. For instance, one might speak of the breadth of knowledge, meaning a wide or comprehensive range.
When discussing physical objects, width is a term more frequently used in technical, mathematical, and practical contexts. For instance, in architecture, engineering, or carpentry, width is an important measurement for ensuring precision and accuracy in construction and design.
Breadth, on the other hand, is often used in more abstract or metaphorical senses, in addition to its use as a physical measurement. In education, for example, a curriculum with a wide range of subjects might be described as having considerable breadth. This usage highlights its more expansive, inclusive connotations.

Comparison Chart

Measurement

Side-to-side distance
Often interchangeable with width, but broader

Usage

More technical and specific
Can be abstract or metaphorical

Context

Common in construction, design
Used in describing range or scope

Connotation

Linear, precise
Expansive, inclusive

Width of a table

Compare with Definitions

Width

Side-to-side measurement
The width of the window was 40 inches.

The breadth of the river was daunting.

Width

He checked the width of the TV screen.

Extensive range
The course offered a breadth of topics.

Width

The measurement or extent of something from side to side; the lesser of two or the least of three dimensions of a body
The yard was about seven feet in width

Wide scope
The breadth of her expertise was impressive.

Width

Wide range or extent
The width of experience required for these positions

Wide expanse

Width

The state, quality, or fact of being wide.

Comprehensive width
The breadth of the study was notable.

Width

Abbr. w The measurement of the extent of something from side to side.

The measure or dimension from side to side; width.

Width

A piece of material measured along its smaller dimension or its crosswise grain, especially a piece of fabric measured from selvage to selvage.

A piece usually produced in a standard width

Width

The state of being wide.

Wide range or scope

Width

The measurement of the extent of something from side to side.

A jurist of great breadth and wisdom.

Width

A piece of material measured along its smaller dimension, especially fabric.

An effect of unified, encompassing vision in an artistic composition.

Width

(cricket) The horizontal distance between a batsman and the ball as it passes him.

The extent or measure of how broad or wide something is.
The breadth of the corridor is 4.5 metres.

Width

(sports) The use of all the width of the pitch, from one side to the other.
Manchester United like to play with width.

A piece of fabric of standard width.

Width

The quality of being wide; extent from side to side; breadth; wideness; as, the width of cloth; the width of a door.

Scope or range, especially of knowledge or skill.

Width

The extent of something from side to side

(arts) A style in painting in which details are strictly subordinated to the harmony of the whole composition.

Width

Distance across
She measured the width of the fabric.

(graph theory) The length of the longest path between two vertices in a graph.

Width

Horizontal dimension
The width of the room was surprising.

Distance from side to side of any surface or thing; measure across, or at right angles to the length; width.
Breadth of coloring is a prominent character in the painting of all great masters.

Width

Across measurement
The bridge's width was impressive.

An ability to understand a broad range of topics;
A teacher must have a breadth of knowledge of the subject

The extent of something from side to side

Common Curiosities

Can breadth mean more than physical width?

Yes, it implies wider scope.

Is width a linear measurement?

Yes, from side to side.

Is width used in mathematics?

Yes, it’s a common dimension.

Often, especially in abstract contexts.

Can breadth be used in education?

Yes, for range of subjects.

In physical dimensions, frequently.

Is width always horizontal?

Typically, but context matters.

Yes, indicating wide variety.

Is width relevant in clothing design?

Yes, for fitting and style.

Yes, for scope of styles or themes.

Is width important in architecture?

Absolutely, for structural planning.

How is width measured?

With tools like rulers or measuring tapes.

Yes, indicating comprehensive understanding.

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