Tim Bowen is back with more word grammar analysis for a worldwide audience!
Apart from its use as an adjective, wide can also be used as an adverb and as a suffix. As an adverb, it can be used to mean ‘as much as possible’, as in ‘Stand with your feet wide apart and try and touch the floor with your fingertips’. It can also mean ‘over a large area’, as in ‘The news quickly spread far and wide’.
Often used in a sporting context, wide can also mean ‘to one side of the point that was aimed at’, as in ‘Johnson was clean through on goal with only the keeper to beat but his shot went wide’.
Apart from its literal meaning, the expression wide open can be used to mean ‘not protected against something’, as in ‘Some politicians claim that the country is wide open to terrorist attack’. Wide open can also be used to refer to a large area with no buildings on it, such as ‘the wide open spaces of the American west’. Once again in a sporting or competitive context, but also sometimes in a political context such as an election, wide open means ‘with no obvious winner yet’, as in ‘I think the championship’s wide open this year. Any one of seven teams could still win it’.
As a suffix, wide can be added to certain words with the meaning ‘in all parts’. Some examples of this are nationwide, countrywide, companywide, industry-wide, network-wide, society-wide and worldwide, as in ‘To the dismay of travellers, there will be a network-wide shutdown of the railways on Christmas Day again this year’.