- the whole side of a ship above the water line, from the bow to the quarter.
- any strong or comprehensive attack, as by criticism.
- Also called broadsheet.
- a sheet of paper printed on one or both sides, as for distribution or posting.
- any printed advertising circular.
- any broad surface or side, as of a house.
- Also called broadside ballad. a song, chiefly in 16th- and 17th-century England, written on a topical subject, printed on broadsides, and sung in public, as on a street corner, by a professional balladeer.
1590s, "side of a ship" (technically, "the side of a ship above the water, between the bow and the quarter"), from broad + side; thus "the artillery on one side of a ship all fired off at once" (1590s, with figurative extensions). Two words until late 18c. Of things other than ships, 1630s. But oldest-recorded sense in English is "sheet of paper printed only on one side" (1570s).
"The argument was over whether the human race could transform the world into paradise. Malthus thought not, and said so at length—55,000 words, published as an unsigned broadside in 1798."
- Charles Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created