1 : a sheet of paper printed usually on one side (as an advertisement)
2 : all the guns on one side of a ship; also : their simultaneous discharge
3 : a volley of abuse or denunciation : a strongly worded attack
Did You Know?
What do sheets of printed paper and a ship's artillery have in common? Not a whole lot besides their "broadsides." The printing and naval senses of "broadside" arose independently in the 16th century. Printed broadsides may have first been decrees intended for public posting, so they were necessarily printed on one side of large sheets of paper. Soon even matters printed on one side of smallish sheets were called broadsides -- advertisements, for example, or the so-called "broadside ballads," popular ditties that people stuck on the wall to sing from. In the nautical sense, "broadside" was originally the entire side of a ship above the water -- which is where the guns were placed. The further use of "broadside" to refer to firing of the guns eventually led to the figurative "volley of abuse" sense.
The intern was surprised when her supervisor answered her simple question with a broadside against the company’s treatment of employees.
"The chairman of the House intelligence committee on Tuesday launched a broadside against the Chinese government and its efforts to steal commercial data and other intellectual property online, saying that Beijing’s cyber-espionage campaign has 'reached an intolerable level' and that the United States and its allies have an 'obligation to confront Beijing and demand that they put a stop to this piracy.'" -- From an article by Ellen Nakashima and Jason Ukman in The Washington Post, October 4, 2011
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