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abroad

Lest there be any doubt, abroad has absolutely nothing to do with the 1930s to 1950s (or whenever it was) Humphrey Bogart-ish, James Cagney-ish, West Side Story-ish, now fairly politically incorrect-ish synonym for a woman, namely, a broad. Other synonyms of that ilk are dame, babe, doll, doll-face, bird, chick and bit of skirt, but that is totally irrelevant because, like I said, abroad has absolutely nothing to do with those or any other objectifying and/or politically incorrect term for a woman.

The most common meaning of abroad is outside of your country.

So, if you are in, say, Europe and I am in, say, Canada (which is a perfectly appropriate thing to say because that’s where I am), then from my perspective you are abroad and from your perspective I am abroad. And, yet, I am not abroad from my perspective and you are not abroad from your perspective. I think people in the 1960s went on acid trips hoping that would somehow allow them to get their heads around that sort of shallow paradox.

That’s the way I interpret my dictionary’s definition of abroad, but that differs slightly, although only in scope, from the way I use abroad. To my mind, the area that one has to be out of to be considered to be abroad is, well, broader than a country.

For example, I live in Canada. I travel to the United States at least a couple of times a year, and sometimes more frequently than that, to visit friends and family. Because the U.S. is right next door and part of the same landmass as Canada (i.e., North America), I don’t think of that as going abroad. I think of it as visiting the States. Period.

To my mind, to be abroad you have to be outside of your continent, not just outside of your country. But maybe that’s just me.

Abroad can also mean outside. For example, one of those politically incorrect men of the Bogart and Cagney era alluded to above might say something like, “I was wandering around the neighborhood and I noticed that there are no broads abroad.” Of course, if he used abroad in such an affected way his friends would likely think of him as an effete if they knew what the word meant.

Abroad can also be used to describe something that is in wide distribution, such as an, “the theory about the Earth not being flat has really gotten abroad, hasn’t it?”

However, be careful with this latter usage. A woman might go abroad if she so chooses, but apart from that, as with all of the other definitions of abroad, in this sense, i.e., in wide distribution, you would be best to remember my warning that the word abroad has nothing specifically to do with women. You might get your face slapped, or worse, if you suggest that a particular women, or women in general, is/are in wide distribution. And there would be a good chance that you would deserve it.

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