- The event of a ball being delivered by a bowler too wide or (in international cricket) high to be hit by the batsman, and ruled so by the umpire.
- The run scored by the batting team as a penalty to the bowling team when this occurs.
A wide does not count as one of the six balls in an over and it does not count as a ball faced by the batsman.
When a wide is bowled, one run is added to the runs scored off that ball, and is scored as extras and are added to the team's total, but are not added to any batsman's total.
A batsman cannot, by definition, be out bowled, leg before wicket, caught, or hit the ball twice off a wide, as a ball cannot be ruled as a wide if the ball strikes the batsman's bat or person. He may be out handled the ball, hit wicket, obstructing the field, run out, or stumped.
If the wicket-keeper fumbles or misses the ball, the batsmen may be able to take additional runs safely, and may choose to do so. The number of runs scored are scored as wides, not byes. These extra wides are all added to the bowler's score.
If the wicket-keeper misses the ball and it travels all the way to the boundary, the batting team immediately scores five wides, similarly as if the ball had been hit to the boundary for a four on a no ball. If a wide ball crosses the boundary without touching the ground, only five wides (not seven) are scored - according to Law 19.5, a boundary six can only be scored if the ball has touched the bat.
If a ball qualifies as a no ball as well as a wide, the umpire will call it a no ball instead of a wide, and all the rules for a no ball apply.
Wides are considered to be the fault of the bowler, and are recorded as a negative statistic in a bowler's record. However, this has only been the case since the early 1980s - the first Test to record wides (and no-balls) against the bowler's analyses was India vs Pakistan in September 1983.
Wides used to be relatively rare, but regulations have been added in many competitions to enforce a much stricter interpretation in order to deter defensive bowling, and the number of wides has increased sharply. In one-day cricket, most deliveries that pass the batsman on the leg side without hitting the stumps are now called as wides. In the semi-finals and final of the first World Cup in 1975, there were 79 extras, of which 9 were wides (11.4%); in the semi-finals and final of the World Cup in 2011, there were 77 extras, of which 46 were wides (59.7%). In the six Tests of the 1970-71 Ashes series there were 9 wides; in the five Tests of the Ashes series of 2010-11 there were 52 wides. 
The baseball equivalent of a wide is a called "ball" (short for "no ball"), in the sense that each is judged to be an "unfair" or "unhittable" delivery by the umpire. Baseball's "strike zone" provides a more precise definition than does cricket, leaving less to the umpire's judgment (he can still decide whether the ball must completely enter the zone, or only touch it, for a "ball" to be avoided). Unlike a wide, if the batter swings the bat, then the ball is deemed fair regardless of where it was thrown.
An umpire straightens both his arms to form horizontal, straight line to signal a wide.
- Statistics derived from score sheets in Wisden, editions of 1972, 1976, 2011 and 2012.
- "Law 25 (Wide ball)". Lords. Retrieved 3 August 2010.