Cast a wide net

Cast a wide net is an idiom with an uncertain origin. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying cast a wide net, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Cast a wide net means to investigate a wide array of solutions for a problem or to involve many people or other elements into one’s activity. Though the exact origin of the phrase cast a wide net is not known, we do know that it comes from fishing. If a fisherman casts a big net over a big area, he will catch more fish than a fisherman using a smaller net. Related phrases are casts a wide net, casting a wide net.


“It may cast a wide net and keep people from exposing others but it’s a high burden on individuals and society keeping people out of work,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. (Delaware State News)

Ms. Hobson has pushed for companies that Ariel invests in to cast a wide net for talent. (Wall Street Journal)

He also cast a wide net of suspicion on the mail-in ballot process alleging that the process would benefit the Democrats who would somehow tamper with the ballots. (Chicago Crusader)

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