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From Middle English encrochen, from Old French encrochier (to seize), from Old French en- + croc (hook), of Germanic origin. More at crook.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɪŋˈkɹəʊtʃ/, /ɛŋˈkɹəʊtʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -əʊtʃ


encroach (third-person singular simple present encroaches, present participle encroaching, simple past and past participle encroached)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) to seize, appropriate
  2. (intransitive) to intrude unrightfully on someone else’s rights or territory
    • 1579, Immeritô [pseudonym; Edmund Spenser], The Shepheardes Calender: Conteyning Tvvelue Æglogues Proportionable to the Twelue Monethes. Entitled to the Noble and Vertuous Gentleman most Worthy of all Titles both of Learning and Cheualrie M. Philip Sidney, London: Printed by Hugh Singleton, dwelling in Creede Lane neere vnto Ludgate at the signe of the gylden Tunne, and are there to be solde, OCLC 606515406; republished in Francis J[ames] Child, editor, The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser: The Text Carefully Revised, and Illustrated with Notes, Original and Selected by Francis J. Child: Five Volumes in Three, volume III, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company; The Riverside Press, Cambridge, published 1855, OCLC 793557671, page 406, lines 222–228:
      Now stands the Brere like a lord alone, / Puffed up with pryde and vaine pleasaunce. / But all this glee had no continuaunce: / For eftsones winter gan to approche; / The blustering Boreas did encroche, / And beate upon the solitarie Brere; / For nowe no succoure was seene him nere.
    • 2005, Plato, Sophist. Translation by Lesley Brown. 252d.
      Because change itself would absolutely stay-stable, and again, conversely, stability itself would change, if each of them encroached on the other.
    I won't encroach on your time any longer.
    He never allows work to encroach upon his family life.
    Gradually the negative feelings encroached into her work.
  3. (intransitive) to advance gradually beyond due limits

Derived terms[edit]



encroach (plural encroaches)

  1. (rare) Encroachment.
    • 1805, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘What is Life?’:
      All that we see, all colours of all shade,
      By encroach of darkness made?
    • 2002, Caroline Winterer, The Culture of Classicism, JHU Press 2002, p. 116:
      Shorey was among the most vociferous opponents of the encroach of scientism and utilitarianism in education and society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.