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See also: breech


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From Middle English breche, from Old English bryċe (fracture, breach) and brǣċ (breach, breaking, destruction), from Proto-West Germanic *bruki, from Proto-Germanic *brukiz (breach, fissure) and *brēkō (breaking).



breach (plural breaches)

  1. A gap or opening made by breaking or battering, as in a wall, fortification or levee / embankment; the space between the parts of a solid body rent by violence
    Synonyms: break, rupture, fissure
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene i]:
      "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead."
    • 2020 August 26, “Network News: Major flood damage severs key Edinburgh-Glasgow rail artery”, in Rail, page 21:
      Services between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Falkirk High are currently suspended, following a 30-metre breach of the Union Canal that occurred on August 12 after torrential rain and thunderstorms. The thousands of gallons of water that cascaded onto the railway line below washed away track, ballast and overhead line equipment, and undermined embankments along a 300-metre section of Scotland's busiest rail link.
  2. A breaking up of amicable relations, a falling-out.
  3. A breaking of waters, as over a vessel or a coastal defence; the waters themselves
    A clear breach is when the waves roll over the vessel without breaking. A clean breach is when everything on deck is swept away.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, 2 Samuel 5:20, column 1:
      And Dauid came to Baal-Perazim, and Daiud ſmote them there, and ſaid, The Lord hath broken foorth vpon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters.
    • 1719, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe:
      I cast my eye to the stranded vessel, when, the breach and froth of the sea being so big, I could hardly see it, it lay so far of; and considered, Lord! how was it possible I could get on shore.
    Synonyms: surge, surf
  4. A breaking out upon; an assault.
  5. (archaic) A bruise; a wound.
  6. (archaic) A hernia; a rupture.
  7. (law) A breaking or infraction of a law, or of any obligation or tie; violation; non-fulfillment
    breach of promise
  8. (figurative) A difference in opinions, social class etc.
    • 2013 September 28, Kenan Malik, “London Is Special, but Not That Special”, in New York Times, retrieved 28 September 2013:
      For London to have its own exclusive immigration policy would exacerbate the sense that immigration benefits only certain groups and disadvantages the rest. It would entrench the gap between London and the rest of the nation. And it would widen the breach between the public and the elite that has helped fuel anti-immigrant hostility.
  9. The act of breaking, in a figurative sense.
    • 1748, David Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Section 3, § 12:
      But were the poet to make a total difression from his subject, and introduce a new actor, nowise connected with the personages, the imagination, feeling a breach in transition, would enter coldly into the new scene;


Derived terms[edit]

Terms derived from breach (noun)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
A whale breaching


breach (third-person singular simple present breaches, present participle breaching, simple past and past participle breached)

  1. (transitive) To make a breach in.
    They breached the outer wall, but not the main one.
  2. (transitive) To violate or break.
    • 2000, Justice Stevens., Mobile Oil Exploration & Producing Southeast, Inc. v. United States:
      "I therefore agree with the Court that the Government did breach its contract with petitioners in failing to approve, within 30 days of its receipt, the plan of exploration petitioners submitted."
  3. (transitive, nautical, of the sea) To break into a ship or into a coastal defence.
    • 1947 January and February, H. A. Vallance, “The Sea Wall at Dawlish”, in Railway Magazine, page 18:
      On this occasion, the damage was far more serious. The sea wall was breached completely for a distance of over 50 yd., and the gap had to be bridged by a temporary timber viaduct.
  4. (intransitive, of a whale) To leap out of the water.
    • 1835, Hart, Joseph C., Miriam Coffin, or The whale-fishermen, volume 2, Harper & brothers, page 147:
      The fearless whale-fishermen now found themselves in the midst of the monsters; ... some ... came jumping into the light of day, head uppermost, exhibiting their entire bodies in the sun, and falling on their sides into the water with the weight of a hundred tons, and thus "breaching" with a crash that the thunder of a park of artillery could scarcely equal.
    • 1837, Hamilton, Robert, The natural history of the ordinary cetacea or whales, W.H. Lizars, page 166:
      But one of its most surprising feats, as has been mentioned of the genera already described, is leaping completely out of the water, or 'breaching,' as it is called. ... it seldom breaches more than twice or thrice at a time, and in quick succession.
  5. (law, informal, transitive, usually passive) To charge or convict (someone) of breaching the terms of a bail, probation, recognizance, etc.
    • 2011 June 7, D.A. Harris, J., “R. v. Larochelle, 2011 ONCJ 339”, in CanLII[1], retrieved 10 October 2021:
      [] the Pre-Sentence Report states that: "He was breached by the probation officer within several months of the commencement of the Probation Order for failing to report as he relocated to another Province and did not report there as directed. [] "

Derived terms[edit]