Where did this slang word for woman come from? It comes from a broad being a playing card. This may sound absurd on the face of it, but if you follow the development of slang uses of broad it all becomes clear.
Broad is an 18th century slang term for a playing card, especially one used in three card monte. This usage may refer to style of playing deck. In modern card decks, a bridge deck has narrower cards than are found in a poker deck. If this variation in card size is older (I know words, not cards), then a broad could be a reference to this larger cut of cards. From George Parker’s 1781 A View of Society:
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Black-Legs, who live by the Broads and the Turf [...] Cant for cards.
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton