\ 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 company failed to notify employees of the breach. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Dozens of companies have data dumped online by ransomware ring seeking leverage," 29 Jan. 2020 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu withdrew his request for immunity before the country’s attorney general filed a formal indictment against him on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, "Netanyahu indicted on corruption charges after dropping immunity bid," 28 Jan. 2020 The company did not indicate how many credit cards were compromised and did not say how hackers accessed the information or when Hanna Andersson learned of the data breach. oregonlive, "Portland children’s clothing retailer Hanna Andersson says hackers stole customers’ credit card info," 24 Jan. 2020 Ghosn was charged with under-reporting his future compensation and with breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for his personal benefit. Yuri Kageyama, USA TODAY, "Prosecutors in Japan raid lawyer’s office where Ghosn worked on case," 8 Jan. 2020 Kelly, an American, who is out on bail, has not been charged with the breach of trust allegations Ghosn is also facing. Yuri Kageyama, Detroit Free Press, "Japan issues arrest warrant for wife of ex-Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn," 7 Jan. 2020 After Rainbow tried to take back the home, the couple filed a counterclaim, alleging fraud, breach of contract and failure to meet landlord obligations. Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, "'A dream destroyed': How a homeownership deal left an Indianapolis couple homeless," 3 Dec. 2019 The 77-page indictment charges the longtime leader with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases., "News of the Day From Around the World, Dec. 2," 2 Dec. 2019 Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals. Josef Federman, The Denver Post, "Israel’s Netanyahu charged in corruption cases," 21 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Dutch Safety Board report criticizes both the city’s municipality for lax regulation and the builders of the giant stack of wooden pallets for breaching agreements about its size and the use of accelerants to help ignite the stack. Mike Corder, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Dutch safety board issues scathing report into NYE bonfire," 3 Oct. 2019 Ogle endless vistas of sand and sea and keep an eye out for breaching humpback whales, wave-riding dolphins, and the natural arches of Land’s End. Paul Rubio, Condé Nast Traveler, "17 Infinity Pools That Are Worth the Hotel Reservation Alone," 16 Sep. 2019 The company, also known as Body Shapes Medical Management, was sued Tuesday by Commonwealth Bank & Trust Co. for breaching its lease for its clinic on U.S. Highway 42 in the amount of $80,228. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "25 Again clinic sued again — this time for not paying rent, lawsuit says," 1 Aug. 2019 While some applauded the comedian and blamed the government for overreacting, others criticised him for breaching the journalist’s privacy. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "A comedian heckles a “nationalist” news anchor—and riles the Indian government," 28 Jan. 2020 Lucky was ordered to pay $300,000 for breaching the settlement contract. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The Lucky Brand trademark case at SCOTUS may end in misfortune for all civil litigants," 13 Jan. 2020 In a bid to compel the deal’s other signatories — including European nations — to offset the effects of US sanctions, Iran has deliberately breached several of the landmark accord’s restrictions., "Iran bars U.N. nuclear inspector from uranium-enrichment plant - The Boston Globe," 8 Nov. 2019 Company stockholders sued him last year for breaching his fiduciary duty to the company and shareholders and unjustly enriching himself. Lorraine Mirabella,, "Years in the making, construction of controversial Port Covington project finally underway in South Baltimore," 8 Nov. 2019 SOS Towing was previously banned by MPD from a lucrative city rotational towing list for allegedly breaching its laws. Christopher Harress |, al, "Mobile judge questions seizure of tow trucks but stops short of ordering them returned," 1 Nov. 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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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

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Breach.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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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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