adverb, adjective

side by side; beside each other in a line: They walked two abreast down the street.
equal to or alongside in progress, attainment, or awareness (usually followed by of or with): to keep abreast of scientific developments; keeping abreast with the times.

Origin of abreast

First recorded in 1590–1600; a-1 + breast
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for abreast

Contemporary Examples of abreast

Historical Examples of abreast

  • "They would come in twenty abreast to the licks where we lay in wait for them," said the Tallega.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • As I got abreast of the main-mast, I saw some one had let run the halyards.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • By degrees they let the boat drop back till her bow was abreast of the ladder.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • They were then just abreast of the park of Montivilliers, and there they witnessed a most horrible sight.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • The window was "abreast" of them, but also it was a trifle high.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for abreast


adjective (postpositive)

alongside each other and facing in the same direction
(foll by of or with) up to date (with); fully conversant (with)
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

Word Origin and History for abreast

mid-15c., on brest, from a- (1) + breast (n.); the notion is of "with breasts in line." To keep abreast in figurative sense of "stay up-to-date" is from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper