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 breastworks

Historical Examples of breastworks

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

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

    Ben Comee

    M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan

British Dictionary definitions for breastworks



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 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