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. – Azor Ahai -him- Dec 5 '15 at 0:03

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).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.