The sun was just above the western sky-line, and the evening was a particularly bright and clear one, so that the whole extent of the plateau was visible beneath me. — It was, as seen from this height, of an oval contour, with a breadth of about thirty miles and a width of twenty. — Its general shape was that of a shallow funnel, all the sides sloping down to a considerable lake in the center.

Source: The Lost World

  • Not very well. This is a bad phrasing. Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


Width is typically understood to refer to a line that is parallel to the line that connects the shoulders of the onlooker (i.e. left-right).

When we say a breadth of country we are conceiving of an expanse which is not oriented in a particular way relative to an onlooker.


So, given the fact that we have a width, by process of elimination, I would say that breadth here must refer to how far the country extends perpendicular to left-right.

But I would not wager much money on that opinion.


Either breadth or width can refer to how wide something is i.e. side-to-side

John held his arms apart showing the width of the tree trunk

The other word (width / breadth) would refer to the other (second) dimension. In the example given, depth would be the third dimension describing how far down the valley goes.

In the example:

Travel the length and breadth of the country.

Length refers to north/south (head-to-toe), and breadth refers to east/west (side-to-side).

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