phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at
Home button Home | Search the website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Broad in the beam

The meaning and origin of the expression: Broad in the beam

Broad in the beam

Other phrases about:

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Broad in the beam'?

Having wide hips or buttocks.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Broad in the beam'?

This phrase derives from the nautical term 'beam' - the widest point of a ship. Beam is first recorded in Captain John Smith's invaluable record of early seafaring terms - The Seaman's Grammar, 1627:

"Suppose a Ship of 300. Tunnes be 29 foot at the Beame."

Broad in the beamThe figurative use of beam referring to people's hips came into being in the 20th century. An early citation of that comes in Hugh Walpole's Hans Frost, 1929:

"He stood watching disgustedly Bigges' broad beam."

In the 20th century the term was been adapted to mean 'obese; having wide buttocks'. Presumably this metaphor was aided by the similarity of sound to 'broad in the bum'. Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole used the term 'broad beam' in this context in his 1929 novel Hans Frost:

He stood watching disgustedly Bigges' broad beam.

See other Nautical Phrases.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List