View synonyms for breach


[ breech ]


  1. the act or a result of breaking; a break or rupture:

    Many districts were flooded by the river after a breach in an embankment upstream.

    Synonyms: fracture

  2. an infraction or violation, such as of a law, contract, trust, or promise:

    If there is a breach of the warranty, we are not liable for damage.

  3. a gap made in a wall, fortification, line of soldiers, etc.; rift; fissure:

    A breach in the castle walls gave the enemy an entrance.

    Synonyms: opening, rent, crack

  4. Digital Technology. the unauthorized acquisition, use, or disclosure of customers' or users' personal data:

    There's no indication of a data breach affecting credit card information.

  5. a severance of friendly relations.

    Synonyms: dissension, separation, schism, rift, split, alienation

  6. the leap of a whale above the surface of the water.
  7. Archaic. the breaking of waves; the dashing of surf.
  8. Obsolete. wound 1( def ).

verb (used with object)

  1. to make a rupture or opening in:

    We need new ways to recover salmon without breaching the dams.

  2. to break or act contrary to (a law, promise, etc.):

    The plaintiff alleges that the defendant has breached the terms of their license.

verb (used without object)

  1. (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.


/ briːtʃ /


  1. a crack, break, or rupture
  2. a breaking, infringement, or violation of a promise, obligation, etc
  3. any severance or separation

    there was a breach between the two factions of the party

  4. a gap in an enemy's fortifications or line of defence created by bombardment or attack
  5. the act of a whale in breaking clear of the water
  6. the breaking of sea waves on a shore or rock
  7. See wound
    an obsolete word for wound 1


  1. tr to break through or make an opening, hole, or incursion in
  2. tr to break a promise, law, etc
  3. intr (of a whale) to break clear of the water

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Other Words From

  • breach·er noun
  • non·breach noun
  • non·breach·ing adjective
  • un·breached adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breach1

First recorded before 1000; Middle English breche, Old English bræc “breaking”; break ( def )

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breach1

Old English bræc ; influenced by Old French brèche , from Old High German brecha , from brechan to break

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. more honored in the breach (than the observance),
    1. (of a rule, law, custom, etc.) frequently ignored or rarely carried out:

      Courtly love was just an ideal, more honored in the breach than the observance.

      Even the best advice may be more honored in the breach.

    2. (of a rule, law, custom, etc.) unjust or ignoble to the point of being better to ignore:

      They agreed that the promises made to their unfit leader would be more honored in the breach than the observance.

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

Yet if a developer offers people alternate payment options outside the App Store—or even points people to alternatives, however obliquely—they could find themselves in breach of Apple’s “terms of service.”

From Fortune

Europe could fill the breach, but has its own squabbles, allowing China’s nakedly transactional diplomacy and Russia’s chaos-sowing what-aboutism to advance.

From Ozy

OpenAI’s striking lack of openness seems to us to be a serious breach of scientific ethics, and a distortion of the goals of the associated nonprofit.

The Cybersecurity Law had purposely left the regulation of personal data protection vague, but consumer data breaches and theft had reached unbearable levels.

A similarly risky US advance purchase deal with Paris-based Sanofi—risky because no vaccine is guaranteed to work—created a diplomatic breach with France.

This breach is an extraordinary emotional drag on the exhausted population.

The FBI and the President may claim that the Hermit Kingdom is to blame for the most high-profile network breach in forever.

Good old Sir Bob Geldof stepping into the breach again to raise money for crisis-hit Africa?

As mentioned, Yahoo has a black stain on its collaboration and severe breach of privacy.

But while progressive attempts to address the class divide have been less than successful, can the Republicans fill the breach?

After an eight weeks' siege, a breach having been made, the city surrendered, and a month later the fort followed the example.

While secretly countenancing every attack on the Marshal, the Emperor, for family reasons, was loth to come to an open breach.

This decision meant a complete reversal of Swedish foreign policy and a breach with France.

They had reached the foot of the breach, when the fire of the town suddenly ceased.

The place must be battered until a breach was made, and stormed à la Turque.


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More About Breach

What does breach mean?

A breach is a physical break or rupture, as in the hull of a ship. It also means a violation or infraction, as in a breach of trust. It can also be used as a verb referring to the action that leads to each of these things.

Breach is often used in phrases like security breach, data breach, breach of trust, breach of etiquette, and breach of contract. 

Example: We view these ethical violations as an unforgivable breach of the public trust, and we call on the senator to resign.

Where does breach come from?

Breach has been in use since before 1000. It comes from the same roots as the word break, and all of its senses relate to breaking or breaking through something.

In a physical sense, to breach something is to break through it. This is often applied to things that aren’t supposed to break, such as the hull of a ship or a thick wall, as in They’ve breached the castle gate! The resulting hole is called a breach.

The figurative sense of breach follows the same pattern. To breach something in this way is to violate it. It’s often applied to abstract things, as in breach the peace. In its figurative sense, it’s perhaps more commonly used as a noun, as in phrases like breach of trust and breach of friendship (in which cases it often refers to a betrayal) and breach of etiquette (meaning a violation of proper behavior). In a legal sense, you can breach a contract by not following it (resulting in a breach of contract). When someone bypasses security, it’s called a security breach. When hackers steal information, it’s called a data breach.

A little more specifically, it’s called a breach when a whale breaches the surface of the water by thrusting itself up out of it.

Breach should not be confused with the homophone breech, which generally refers to the lower part of something.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to breach?

  • breacher (noun)
  • nonbreach (noun)
  • nonbreaching (adjective)
  • unbreached (adjective)

What are some synonyms for breach?

What are some words that share a root or word element with breach

What are some words that often get used in discussing breach?



What are some words breach may be commonly confused with?



How is breach used in real life?

Breach refers to things that have been broken or violated. The break can be physical, but breach more commonly refers to violations of abstract things.



Try using breach!

Which of the following words is a synonym for breach?

A. agreement
B. violation
C. reconciliation
D. broken

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




Breabreach of contract