• synonyms


[brich-ing, bree-ching]
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  1. the part of a harness that passes around the haunches of a horse.
  2. a smoke pipe connecting one or more boilers with a chimney.
  3. Navy. (formerly) a strong rope fastened to a ship's side for securing a gun or checking its recoil.
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Origin of breeching

First recorded in 1505–15; breech + -ing1


[noun breech; verb breech, brich]
  1. the lower, rear part of the trunk of the body; buttocks.
  2. the hinder or lower part of anything.
  3. Ordnance. the rear part of the bore of a gun, especially the opening and associated mechanism that permits insertion of a projectile.
  4. Machinery. the end of a block or pulley farthest from the supporting hook or eye.
  5. Nautical. the outside angle of a knee in the frame of a ship.
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verb (used with object)
  1. Ordnance. to fit or furnish (a gun) with a breech.
  2. to clothe with breeches.
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Origin of breech

before 1000; Middle English breeche, Old English brēc, plural of brōc; cognate with Old Norse brōk, Old High German bruoh
Related formsun·breeched, adjective
Can be confusedbreach breech (see synonym study at breach)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for breeching

drape, swaddle, swathe, fit, cloak, disguise, attire, equip, dress, gown, vest, habit, accouter, garb, mantle, costume, spruce, rig, array, endue

Examples from the Web for breeching

Historical Examples of breeching

  • He wants the whip; ought to have had it regularly from his first breeching.

    The Amazing Marriage, Complete

    George Meredith

  • This first breeching is an event that papa desires and mamma dreads.

  • A breeching and a couple of tackles, if the guns should be fired on skids.

  • With a breeching, the piece may be fired as if on an ordinary carriage.

  • A crupper under his tail, or a thong as a breeching may be used.

    The Art of Travel

    Francis Galton

British Dictionary definitions for breeching


  1. the strap of a harness that passes behind a horse's haunches
  2. navy (formerly) the rope used to check the recoil run of a ship's guns or to secure them against rough weather
  3. the parts comprising the breech of a gun
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noun (briːtʃ)
  1. the lower dorsal part of the human trunk; buttocks; rump
  2. the lower part or bottom of somethingthe breech of the bridge
  3. the lower portion of a pulley block, esp the part to which the rope or chain is secured
  4. the part of a firearm behind the barrel or bore
  5. obstetrics short for breech delivery
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verb (briːtʃ, brɪtʃ) (tr)
  1. to fit (a gun) with a breech
  2. archaic to clothe in breeches or any other clothing
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See also breeches

Word Origin for breech

Old English brēc, plural of brōc leg covering; related to Old Norse brōk, Old High German bruoh


Breech is sometimes wrongly used as a verb where breach is meant: the barrier/agreement was breached (not breeched)
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 breeching



"back part of a gun or firearm," 1570s, from singular of breeches (q.v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

breeching in Medicine


  1. The lower rear portion of the human trunk; the buttocks.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.