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From Middle English brest, from Old English brēost, from Proto-Germanic *breustą, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrews- (to swell). Compare West Frisian boarst, Danish bryst, Swedish bröst; cf. also Dutch borst, German Brust.


  • IPA(key): /bɹɛst/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛst
  • Homophone: Brest


breast (plural breasts)

A breast
  1. (anatomy) Either of the two organs on the front of a female human's chest, which contain the mammary glands; also the analogous organs in males.
    Tanya's breasts grew remarkably during pregnancy.
  2. (anatomy) The chest, or front of the human thorax.
    • 1798, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
      The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, For he heard the loud bassoon.
  3. A section of clothing covering the breast area.
  4. The figurative seat of the emotions, feelings etc.; one's heart or innermost thoughts.
    She kindled hope in the breast of all who heard her.
  5. The ventral portion of an animal's thorax.
    The robin has a red breast.
  6. A choice cut of poultry, especially chicken or turkey, taken from the bird’s breast; also a cut of meat from other animals, breast of mutton, veal, pork.
    Would you like breast or wing?
  7. The front or forward part of anything.
    a chimney breast; a plough breast
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Mountains on whose barren breast / The labouring clouds do often rest.
    • 2015 April 7, Jeff Howell, “The secret of longer lasting tiles [print version: How to avoid cracking up, 4 April 2015, p. P7]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Property)[1], archived from the original on 22 April 2015:
      If you burn wood on its own, the flue gases are cooler than from a coal fire. This can result in tars condensing out within the parging and brickwork of the flue, sometimes causing brown or yellow staining on upstairs chimney breasts.
  8. (mining) The face of a coal working.
  9. (mining) The front of a furnace.
  10. (obsolete) The power of singing; a musical voice.



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.


breast (third-person singular simple present breasts, present participle breasting, simple past and past participle breasted)

  1. (transitive) To push against with the breast; to meet full on, oppose, face
    He breasted the hill and saw the town before him.
    • Wirt
      The court breasted the popular current by sustaining the demurrer.