broaden/widen/extend/expand horizon [+ scope, compass]

hhtt

Senior Member
Turkish
Hi, when saying "You should broaden your horizon." If we change broaden, which strongly collocates with horizon, with widen/extend or expand, which of them fit well and which of them become incorrect or odd?

1) You should widen your horizon (very common on the net)

2) You shoud extend your horizon (also very common on the net)

3) you should expand your horizon (also very common on the net)

Source: A general situation and self-made question

Thank you.
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I find all of them sound colloquial, though I have a slight preference for "broaden" or "expand," and I would probably not use "widen" myself.

    Also, "horizon" is often used in the plural ("horizons") in this context.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "extend your horizons" - 18,300 hits (according to the first page - the numbers often change as you page forward)
    "widen your horizons" - 52,900
    "expand your horizons" - 369,000
    "broaden your horizons" 431,000
     

    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    "extend your horizons" - 18,300 hits (according to the first page - the numbers often change as you page forward)
    "widen your horizons" - 52,900
    "expand your horizons" - 369,000
    "broaden your horizons" 431,000
    Does this Show that all of them grammatically correct, natural and idiomatic?

    Thank you.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Does this Show that all of them grammatically correct, natural and idiomatic?
    Not at all. They could all be typos written by elephants with smartphones with bad auto-correct. People write "I can haz cheezburger" on purpose. It's Google.
    You seem to suggest that they are all "very common" but that's not really the case.
     

    Juan del Acebo

    New Member
    Spanish-Venezuela
    Added to previous discussion.
    Cagey, moderator

    I'd be very grateful for expressions equivalent to the above, as in the example,
    Having focused on the particulars, let us now broaden our scope and look into blablabla...

    Anything similar, especially if it can be used in British academic English, would be great.

    Anything with "purview" for instance...? or would that sound really stiff?

    Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Broaden or widen our scope is fine. An alternative would be "extend our horizons", or "look at the bigger picture".

    I really wouldn't recommend using "purview" – it could come across as pretentious and there's a good chance that not everyone would even know the word!
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    I like "broaden" better than "widen"; I think of them as figurative and literal, respectively.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Compass is nice. But right now I can't think of an obvious verb to use with it! Which probably means there is no widely recognisable idiom, such as "broaden the scope", etc.

    Is there a particular reason why you don't feel "broaden the scope" is academic enough?
     

    Juan del Acebo

    New Member
    Spanish-Venezuela
    Is there a particular reason why you don't feel "broaden the scope" is academic enough?
    Not really, I know it's perfectly fine. Just looking for alternatives and, I think, also trying to mimic a Spanish expression which is hardwired in my brain, "abrir el compás". The Spanish image is related to the drawing compasses.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Very interesting! My immediate thought, when you mentioned "compass", was exactly that – "open up the compass". But a good rule of thumb for this sort of thing is to Google a phrase (in inverted commas, not that that counts for much) and see how many hits it records, compared with a more common phrase. I did try that and the results were not favourable.

    But, you know what? I like it. And if I were you I'd go with my gut feeling and use the English equivalent of "abrir el compás" as it's perfectly legitimate.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    In English, "compass" is used to indicate direction - either a specific direction (eg north) or a general sense of knowing where one is going (literally or figuratively).

    The related English word "encompass" has a different meaning - it is close to "include", or "encircle" depending on context.

    eg His job encompasses a wide range of responsibilities.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In English, "compass" is used to indicate direction - either a specific direction (eg north) or a general sense of knowing where one is going (literally or figuratively).

    OXFORD (definition 3 of "compass"):

    The range or scope of something.

    ‘the event had political repercussions which are beyond the compass of this book’

    ‘goods and services which fall within the compass of the free market’
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    OXFORD (definition 3 of "compass"):

    The range or scope of something.

    ‘the event had political repercussions which are beyond the compass of this book’

    ‘goods and services which fall within the compass of the free market’
    OK. I accept that. Thanks, lingobingo.

    But I still think that "open up the compass" is not appropriate in this context.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    Searches in Google Books or in the Corpus of Contemporary American English will produce good examples of "within the compass" and "beyond the compass",
    but I agree that "open up the compass" is hard to understand.
    The magnetic, directional compass, the compass for drawing circles, and the compass of embrace or inclusion are three separate things.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Searches in Google Books or in the Corpus of Contemporary American English will produce good examples of "within the compass" and "beyond the compass", but I agree that "open up the compass" is hard to understand.

    The magnetic, directional compass, the compass for drawing circles, and the compass of embrace or inclusion are three separate things.
    The sort of compass I had in mind was the second one in your list, which in my schooldays was called "a pair of compasses". The wider you opened them up, the larger the circle you could draw. But I agree that "open up the compass" is not ideal here. Even if not wrong, it's an outdated metaphor!

    However, "extend the compass" (using the 3rd definition) is an accepted idiom.
     
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