\ ˈbrēch How to pronounce breach (audio) \

Definition of breach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : infraction or violation of a law, obligation, tie, or standard a breach of trust sued them for breach of contract
2a : a broken, ruptured, or torn condition or area a breach of the skin the leak was a major security breach
b : a gap (as in a wall) made by battering fixing a breach in the fence once more unto the breach, dear friends, … or close the wall up with our English dead— Shakespeare
3a : a break in accustomed friendly relations caused a breach between the two countries
b : a temporary gap in continuity : hiatus a breach of routine
4 : a leap especially of a whale out of water


breached; breaching; breaches

Definition of breach (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make a gap in by battering : to make a breach (see breach entry 1 sense 2b) in breached the castle wall
2 : break, violate breach an agreement

intransitive verb

: to leap out of water a whale breaching

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Into the breech or the breach?

If you are about to provide some much-needed assistance in a situation do you get ready to step (or leap, or jump) into the breach or the breech? The former. The sense of breach this expression applies to is “a gap (as in a wall) made by battering.” Breech, on the other hand, refers most often to a part of a rifle (near the rear of the barrel), the buttocks, or short pants which cover the hips and thighs (this sense is always found used in the plural, breeches). You may, if you are in a state of undress, step into your breeches before you step into the breach, but you would never step into your breaches before stepping into the breech.

Examples of breach in a Sentence

Noun This is clearly a breach of the treaty. Many people consider her decision to be a breach of trust . The judge ruled that the doctor's actions were in breach of her contractual duty. Verb He claims that the city breached an agreement by selling the property. Is he going to breach his contract? The army breached the castle wall.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The breach on the City of Mobile website included all of these. Christopher Harress |, al, "Mobile city website mistakenly publishes highly sensitive personal data," 7 Nov. 2019 Wichita police officer Justin Rapp accused the city of breach of contract in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Sedgwick County District Court, The Wichita Eagle reported. Fox News, "Kansas officer who killed man during 'swatting' call sues city for lost wages," 26 Oct. 2019 The Department of Homeland Security shields the identity of cyber victims regardless of whether election systems are involved, and there’s no federal law compelling officials to notify each other of a suspected breach. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Public, election officials may be kept in the dark on hacks," 20 Oct. 2019 Officers concluded that Mulcahy was the suspect in the attack and charged her with two counts of third-degree assault of an elderly person, two counts of breach of peace and one count of third-degree criminal mischief. Christine Dempsey,, "Woman dies after being struck by hit-and-run driver in Waterbury," 24 Sep. 2019 For now, the costs of a data breach look absurdly light by comparison. The Economist, "The Exxon Valdez of cyberspace," 8 Aug. 2019 What were once unthinkable breaches of protocol in behavior and ideology are now celebrated by partisans on both sides. Bobby Jindal, WSJ, "Conservatives, Put Culture First," 1 July 2019 Hackers responsible for data breaches on sites like Yahoo or LinkedIn sometimes post large databases of people's usernames and passwords online. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Google Chrome now lets you flag sketchy websites," 20 June 2019 This is unjust, unethical, and a breach of my contract with PPFA. Fox News, "Planned Parenthood ex-CEO writes letter to board amid severance dispute," 17 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The government rejects the idea that no deal would breach the Good Friday Agreement and claims to remain committed to avoiding friction on the border. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "British politics is turning Trumpian because of Brexit," 12 Sep. 2019 Since then the stock has continued falling, breaching the old 2011 IPO price. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Questions Galore as Peloton Pedals Towards the Public Market—Data Sheet," 28 Aug. 2019 Storonsky insists no regulation was breached, but the episode raises questions about the company’s priorities. Washington Post, "Super-Charged Revolut Might Be Driving Too Fast," 18 Sep. 2019 Cue the second half, and that fragile backline was breached once again., "Why England's New 'Golden Generation' are Set Up for Glorious Failure," 11 Sep. 2019 Students are one of the age groups least likely to know when their Social Security number was breached. Eve Rosen,, "Florida’s Auditor General focuses on student data protection," 10 Sep. 2019 There’s no evidence (so far) that the Voatz system was breached, or was even targeted, and the company has said its security protocols were rigorously audited. Wired, "Wouldn’t It Be Great If People Could Vote on the Blockchain?," 3 Sep. 2019 Some of the 6-foot-high active dams, where there is a lot of mud being applied constantly, are probably more effective at stopping most of the fish … except maybe when they are breached during high-water events. John Myers, Twin Cities, "Damming question: Can beaver and trout coexist? ‘We don’t know yet.’," 26 Aug. 2019 State officials say that information could be breached and could be used to track law-abiding U.S. citizens. Emily Tillett, CBS News, "TSA urges consumers to change identification as Real ID deadline draws near," 23 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'breach.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of breach


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1547, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for breach


Middle English breche "act of breaking, opening in a wall, violation," probably in part continuing Old English brǣc "act of breaking" (derivative from base of brecan "to break"), in part borrowed from Anglo-French & continental Old French breche "break, gap," going back to Old Low Franconian *breka, derivative of *brekan "to break," going back to Germanic *brekan- — more at break entry 1


derivative of breach entry 1

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Statistics for breach

Last Updated

20 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for breach

The first known use of breach was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for breach



English Language Learners Definition of breach

: to fail to do what is required by (something, such as a law or agreement) : to break or violate (something)
: to make a hole or opening in (something)


\ ˈbrēch How to pronounce breach (audio) \

Kids Definition of breach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a failure to act in a promised or required way a breach of contract
2 : an opening made by breaking a breach in the dam


breached; breaching

Kids Definition of breach (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to fail to do as promised or required by breach an agreement
2 : to make a break in


\ ˈbrēch How to pronounce breach (audio) \

Legal Definition of breach

1a : a violation in the performance of or a failure to perform an obligation created by a promise, duty, or law without excuse or justification
breach of duty
: a breach of a duty especially by a fiduciary (as an agent or corporate officer) in carrying out the functions of his or her position
breach of trust
: a breach by a trustee of the terms of a trust (as by stealing from or carelessly mishandling the funds)
breach of warranty
: a breach by a seller of the terms of a warranty (as by the failure of the goods to conform to the seller's description or by a defect in title)

Note: A seller may be liable for a breach of warranty even without any negligence or misconduct.

b : failure without excuse or justification to fulfill one's obligations under a contract

called also breach of contract

— compare repudiation
anticipatory breach
: a breach of contract that occurs as a result of a party's anticipatory repudiation of the contract
efficient breach
: breach of contract in economic theory in which it is more profitable for the breaching party to breach the contract and pay damages than to perform under the contract
material breach
: a breach of contract that is so substantial that it defeats the purpose of the parties in making the contract and gives the nonbreaching party the right to cancel the contract and sue for damages — compare substantial performance at performance

Note: Whether a breach is material is a question of fact. Under the Restatement (Second) of Contracts, a material breach gives rise to the right to suspend performance but not to cancel the contract until there is a total breach.

partial breach
: a breach of contract in which the breaching party's nonperformance is minor and gives rise to the right to sue for damages but not to suspend performance or cancel the contract — compare part performance at performance
total breach
: a breach of contract under the Restatement (Second) of Contracts that is so substantial that it gives rise to the right to cancel the contract and sue for damages
2a : a violation or disturbance of something (as a law or condition) find both the State and the minor guilty of gross breaches of the rules of procedureIn re D.L.B., 429 N.E.2d 615 (1981) a breach of security especially : breach of the peace
b : an act of breaking out breach of prison
3 : the condition of having committed a breach of contract used in the phrase in breach a terminating party who is not in breach is entitled to expensesC&S/Sovran Corp. v. First Fed. Sav. Bank of Brunswick, 463 S.E.2d 892 (1995)

Other Words from breach

breach verb
breacher noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on breach

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for breach

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with breach

Spanish Central: Translation of breach

Nglish: Translation of breach for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breach for Arabic Speakers

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