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[breech] /britʃ/
the act or a result of breaking; break or rupture.
an infraction or violation, as of a law, trust, faith, or promise.
a gap made in a wall, fortification, line of soldiers, etc.; rift; fissure.
a severance of friendly relations.
the leap of a whale above the surface of the water.
Archaic. the breaking of waves; the dashing of surf.
Obsolete. wound1 .
verb (used with object)
to make a breach or opening in.
to break or act contrary to (a law, promise, etc.).
verb (used without object)
(of a whale) to leap partly or completely out of the water, head first, and land on the back or belly with a resounding splash.
Origin of breach
before 1000; Middle English breche, Old English bræc breaking; see break
Related forms
breacher, noun
nonbreach, noun
nonbreaching, adjective
unbreached, adjective
Can be confused
breach, breech.
1. fracture. 3. crack, rent, opening. 4. alienation, split, rift, schism, separation; dissension.
Synonym Study
2. Breach, infraction, violation, transgression all denote in some way the breaking of a rule or law or the upsetting of a normal and desired state. Breach is used infrequently in reference to laws or rules, more often in connection with desirable conditions or states of affairs: a breach of the peace, of good manners, of courtesy. Infraction most often refers to clearly formulated rules or laws: an infraction of the criminal code, of university regulations, of a labor contract. Violation, a stronger term than either of the preceding two, often suggests intentional, even forceful or aggressive, refusal to obey the law or to respect the rights of others: repeated violations of parking regulations; a human rights violation. Transgression, with its root sense of “a stepping across (of a boundary of some sort),” applies to any behavior that exceeds the limits imposed by a law, especially a moral law, a commandment, or an order; it often implies sinful behavior: a serious transgression of social customs, of God's commandments. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for breach
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The responsibility for the breach is not under discussion here.

  • The breach between Palmer and Christine was steadily widening.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • There was a breach in the wall over which he scrambled with some difficulty.

  • I have a right to complain of it as almost a breach of confidence.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • Woburn had broken down the door, and stood torn and breathless in the breach.

    The Greater Inclination Edith Wharton
British Dictionary definitions for breach


a crack, break, or rupture
a breaking, infringement, or violation of a promise, obligation, etc
any severance or separation: there was a breach between the two factions of the party
a gap in an enemy's fortifications or line of defence created by bombardment or attack
the act of a whale in breaking clear of the water
the breaking of sea waves on a shore or rock
an obsolete word for wound1
(transitive) to break through or make an opening, hole, or incursion in
(transitive) to break a promise, law, etc
(intransitive) (of a whale) to break clear of the water
Word Origin
Old English bræc; influenced by Old French brèche, from Old High German brecha, from brechan to break
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for breach

Old English bryce "breach, fracture, a breaking," from brecan (see break), influenced by Old French breche "breach, opening, gap," from Frankish; both from Proto-Germanic *brecho, *bræko "broken," from PIE root *bhreg- "to break" (see fraction). Figurative sense of "a breaking of rules, etc." was in Old English Breach of contract is at least from 1660s.


1570s, from breach (n.). Related: Breached; breaching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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