noun Fortification.

a defensive work, usually breast high.

Origin of breastwork

First recorded in 1635–45; breast + work Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for breastwork

Historical Examples of breastwork

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for breastwork



fortifications a temporary defensive work, usually breast-highAlso 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

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