3

I have seen one sentence -

But it was by far and wide the most expensive.

I know what "far and wide" means, but the meaning from the dictionary doesn't seem to fit here. Rather it seems "by far and away" would be the best fit here for this example sentence. Or even "by far" would be good.

Just want to know "by far and wide" means "by far and away"? Or does it mean something else in this sentence?

  • I guess that this is a mix-up. The sentence is short enough that I can imagine a proper context for any of the "by far", "far and away", and "far and wide" substitutions. Having said that, I think the most likely intended meaning was probably just the "by far", which could be easily mixed up with "far and away" as "by far and away" and then mutated into "by far and wide". By far and away should be avoided (see: public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/byfar.html). – Damkerng T. Apr 27 '14 at 8:06
4

"By far and wide" is simply an inappropriate mixture of "by far" and "far and wide".

The speaker or writer has gaffed, or has picked up the usage from someone.

"By far" is used to express a degree to which something is superlative. If something is by far the best, it means that the distance between that thing and the second best one is conceptually far.

"Far and wide" is an common phrase which refers to a conceptual or physical two dimensional area (which has width and depth).

"The king looked far and wide for a bride".

"By far and wide the best" makes no sense, because comparisons are arranged on a conceptually linear scale, not a two dimensional scale.

I would recommend new learners of English not to use this: keep "by far" and "far and wide" separate.

-2

To "search far and wide," which is the most common use, means to search exhaustively, or to search (almost) everywhere. Far and wide alone means (almost) everywhere.

I think the example sentence here is not good. It would be better to write "But it was by far and away the most expensive."

  • And this was down-voted because...? – jonlink May 5 '14 at 3:19
  • I wasn't one of the down voters, but I can guess. It's most likely because people think "far and away" is right, but "by far and away" is wrong. I think Kaz has it right. – snailcar Oct 19 '14 at 22:33
  • Thanks for the response, however "by far and away" is correct English (as is "far and away"). The use of "by" isn't as common I guess, but "by far and away" is really just a more emphatic "by far." dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/by-far-and-away – jonlink Oct 19 '14 at 22:46
  • Fair enough. In the British National Corpus, I find 53 results for far and away, and 0 for by far and away. But I do see some examples in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, although it's far less common with by. So I'll give you an upvote to bring you back to -1, although I personally feel far and away is a better choice. – snailcar Oct 19 '14 at 22:55
  • I agree that "far and away" is probably better. Ironically even though the website linked above is British, there's only a check next to American English for this entry. Thanks for the upvote, though wasn't asking for it. I really just wanted to understand why. – jonlink Oct 19 '14 at 23:02

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