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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 breastworks
Historical Examples
  • In front of the hill were the breastworks; in front of the breastworks woods.

    Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman J. H. (James Harvey) Kidd
  • Then in the afternoon there was a grand charge upon the Rebel breastworks.

    Winning His Way

    Charles Carleton Coffin
  • Rodes's Alabamian's passed the abattis, touched the breastworks.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • The British were within two hundred yards of the American breastworks.

    The Land We Live In

    Henry Mann
  • The regiments were all under arms at the breastworks at six o'clock.

    Ben Comee

    M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
  • Before they moved off, Drew turned his head to the breastworks.

    Ride Proud, Rebel! Andre Alice Norton
  • It was on the left, fronting Strickland's and Moore's, on the breastworks.

    The Bishop of Cottontown John Trotwood Moore
  • And they lay around the breastworks from river to river, a chain of dead and dying.

    The Bishop of Cottontown John Trotwood Moore
  • In front of the breastworks was another chain—a wider and thicker one.

    The Bishop of Cottontown John Trotwood Moore
  • Day and night the men worked at the breastworks and bridges.

    Three Years in the Sixth Corps George T. Stevens
British Dictionary definitions for breastworks


(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 breastworks



"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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Slang definitions & phrases for breastworks



The female breasts; bazoom (1860s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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