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
Many argue that the city's increased surveillance of public spaces encroaches on the rights of individuals.
"Under the existing municipal code, outdoor dining venues that encroach into the sidewalk right of way require discretionary review, a lengthier process that includes environmental analysis, formal public noticing and the option for opponents to appeal staff decisions to the Planning Commission." - From an article by Lori Weisberg in the San Diego Union-Tribune, May 15, 2013
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).
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to create a synonym of "encroach": ifig. The answer is …