\ 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 outrage over that breach still hung in the air. Peter Baker,, "The only way this presidency could end," 14 Jan. 2021 Defense Department officials met with Washington authorities on Wednesday to work on plans to try to ensure there is not a repeat of last week’s violent breach. New York Times, "F.B.I. Urges Police Chiefs Across U.S. to Be on High Alert for Threats," 13 Jan. 2021 After leaving office, Olmert was convicted of bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice and breach of trust, and served 16 months in prison. Washington Post, "Ban Trump from running again? That’s been tried elsewhere — with mixed results," 13 Jan. 2021 The House is set to vote on Wednesday to impeach Trump over a deadly Capitol breach that resulted in the damage of federal property and the deaths of five people. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "GOP successor to Justin Amash cues support for impeachment," 12 Jan. 2021 Yarmuth quickly called for Trump's removal the day after Wednesday's riot — a violent breach of the Capitol that forced Congress to temporarily stop the typically routine process of certifying the presidential election results. Morgan Watkins, The Courier-Journal, "What Kentucky's congressmen think of impeachment or invoking 25th Amendment for Trump," 11 Jan. 2021 Their breach came with a confused and frenzied energy, fueled by the words of Trump just minutes before and the fervor of the mob standing behind them. Sabrina Tavernise, Star Tribune, "Capitol rioters were mostly white men," 8 Jan. 2021 Still, Iran's enrichment decision represents a major breach of the nuclear deal. NBC News, "Iran tries to increase its leverage in future negotiations with President-elect Biden," 5 Jan. 2021 While the government does not believe the warning of an attack is credible, it is being investigated as a breach of aviation frequencies, CBS News has learned. Jeff Pegues, CBS News, "Breach of air traffic control sends chilling threat as revenge for killing of Iranian general," 5 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Mourinho made fleeting reference to the disciplinary issues facing three of his stars after the rules breach. Paul Gittings, CNN, "Premier League stars condemned for Covid lockdown breach," 2 Jan. 2021 The shape of the forts, as well as their outlying moats, are designed to allow defenders to fire on the flanks of attacking ground troops while offering no cover to those trying to breach its defenses. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Medieval Star Forts Are Surprisingly Alive and Well in North Africa," 31 Dec. 2020 This year was finally capped off by revelations of a disastrous hacking campaign that hijacked the software updates of IT management firm SolarWinds to breach a slew of federal agencies and tech firms. Andy Greenberg, Wired, "2020 Shows the Danger of a Decapitated Cyber Regime," 23 Dec. 2020 As schools pivoted to virtual learning this year, teachers scrambled to breach the digital distance. Sarah Matusek, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘Good morning, sweet girl’: A day in the life of an online teacher," 21 Dec. 2020 Sunday was also when multiple news outlets, citing unnamed people, reported that the hackers had used the backdoor in Orion to breach networks belonging to the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, and possibly other agencies. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "SolarWinds hack that breached gov networks poses a “grave risk” to the nation," 17 Dec. 2020 This much is clear: The lack of cyber mischief directed at election systems in 2020 stood in contrast to what happened in 2016, when Russian military hackers sought to breach election systems in all 50 states, and got into a number of them. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, "Polls close on Election Day with no apparent cyber interference," 4 Nov. 2020 The suit seeks damages related to breach of an oral contract, among other complaints that include intentional inflection of emotional distress. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, "NBA investigating Clippers after allegations against Jerry West are made in lawsuit," 17 Dec. 2020 The hackers were able to breach U.S. government entites by first attacking the SolarWinds IT provider. William Turton,, "FireEye Stumbled Across SolarWinds Breach While Probing Own Hack," 15 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for breach

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for breach

Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Breach.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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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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