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[brest-wurk] /ˈbrɛstˌwɜrk/
noun, Fortification.
a defensive work, usually breast high.
Origin of breastwork
First recorded in 1635-45; breast + work Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for breastwork
Historical Examples
  • He was behind a boulder, not too dissimilar to Calhoun's breastwork.

    Pariah Planet Murray Leinster
  • The breastwork was about five feet high, and was absolutely unclimbable.

  • All the miners rushed to the breastwork save one, and that was Seth.

    Picked up at Sea J.C. Hutcheson
  • None of them, however, showed any signs of returning to the breastwork.

    The Desert Home Mayne Reid
  • The builders of that breastwork were before my eyes, and apparently just resting from their labours.

    The Desert Home Mayne Reid
  • He drew in his rein, and stopped his steed at one end of the breastwork.

  • Then we pushed into the mass of boughs and drove the French back into their breastwork.

    Ben Comee

    M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
  • How they were to take the breastwork in this way, we could not see.

    Ben Comee

    M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
  • Entrance is gained to the turrets themselves from inside this breastwork.

    Man on the Ocean R.M. Ballantyne
  • The Dominie, who had seen the occurrence, rushed back to the breastwork.

    With Axe and Rifle W.H.G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for breastwork


(fortifications) a temporary defensive work, usually breast-high Also called parapet
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 breastwork

"fieldwork thrown up breast-high for defense," 1640s, from breast (n.) + work (n.) in "fortification" sense. Old English had breostweall in same sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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