From Middle English brood, brode, from Old English brād, from Proto-West Germanic *braid, from Proto-Germanic *braidaz, of uncertain origin. Cognate with Scots braid ("broad"), West Frisian breed ("broad"), Saterland Frisian breed ("broad"), Low German breed ("broad"), breet, Dutch breed ("broad"), German breit ("broad, wide"), Danish, Swedish and Norwegian Bokmål bred ("broad"), Norwegian brei ("broad"), Icelandic breiður ("broad, wide").
Early 20th century. Said to be from abroadwife, "woman who lives or travels without her husband", though it might be in part an alteration of bride, especially through influence of cognate German Braut, which is used in the same sense of “broad, young woman, hussy”. Compare Middle High German brūt.
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