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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-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; the space between the parts of a solid body rent by violence
    Synonyms: break, rupture, fissure
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, Henry V, act 3, scene 1:
      "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead."
  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.
    • Bible, 2 Sam. 5 v. 20
      The Lord hath broken forth upon 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.
    • Bible, 1 Chron. xiii. 11
      The Lord had made a breach upon Uzza.
  5. (archaic) A bruise; a wound.
    • Bible, Leviticus xxiv. 20
      breach for breach, eye for eye
  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. (figuratively) A difference in opinions, social class etc.
    • 2013 September 28, Kenan Malik, "London Is Special, but Not That Special," 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]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. 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, Mobile Oil Exploration & Producing Southeast, Inc. v. United States, Justice Stevens.
      "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.
  4. (intransitive, of a whale) To leap clear out of the water.