Simple Definition of encroach
: to gradually move or go into an area that is beyond the usual or desired limits
: to gradually take or begin to use or affect something that belongs to someone else or that someone else is using
Full Definition of encroach
1 : to enter by gradual steps or by stealth into the possessions or rights of another
2 : to advance beyond the usual or proper limits <the gradually encroaching sea>
Examples of encroach in a sentence
The suburbs encroach further into the rural areas each year.
<each year the sea continues to encroach upon the island's beaches>
Did You Know?
The history behind "encroach" is likely to hook you in. First appearing in English in the 16th century, the word derives from the Middle English "encrochen," which means "to get or seize." The Anglo-French predecessor of "encrochen" is "encrocher," which was formed by combining the prefix en- ("in") with the noun "croche" ("hook"). "Croche" also gave us our word crochet, in reference to the hooked needle used in that craft. "Encroach" carries the meaning of "intrude" both in terms of privilege (as demonstrated in our first example sentence) or property (as in our second example sentence). The word can also hop over legal barriers to describe a general advancement beyond desirable or normal limits (such as a hurricane that encroaches on the mainland).
Origin of encroach
Middle English encrochen to get, seize, from Anglo-French encrocher, from en- + croc, croche hook — more at crochet
First Known Use: 1528
Synonym Discussion of encroach
ENCROACH Defined for Kids
Definition of encroach for Students
1 : to take over the rights or property of another little by little or in secret <The prince encroached on the king's authority.>
2 : to go beyond the usual or proper limits <Cities have encroached upon wildlife habitats.>
Legal Definition of encroach
: to enter esp. gradually or stealthily into the possessions or rights of another <encroaches on an adjoining property>
Origin of encroach
Anglo-French encrocher, probably alteration of acrocher to catch hold of, seize, usurp, from Old French, from a-, prefix stressing goal + croc hook
Seen and Heard
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