\ 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 If this password gets compromised by a data breach, any other accounts linked to that same password are now at risk since hackers have the credentials. Neill Feather, Quartz, "The age of cybersecurity is forcing parents to redefine “the talk”," 7 Jan. 2020 Massive private data breaches, often of credit histories and personal identifying information, have become a monthly occurrence. Michael Taylor,, "Taylor: Snowden’s important warning on surveillance," 3 Jan. 2020 The network filed papers in Washington, D.C., Superior Court in response to a breach-of-contract lawsuit Smiley filed a month prior. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "PBS external report details years of allegations against Tavis Smiley," 3 Jan. 2020 Ghosn was charged with four counts of financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust, including by underreporting his income and enriching himself through payments to dealerships in the Middle East. Simon Denyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Turkey detains seven people over escaped Nissan executive Ghosn’s ‘illegal transit’ through Istanbul," 2 Jan. 2020 Ghosn was charged with four counts of financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust, including by allegedly underreporting his income and enriching himself through payments to dealerships in the Middle East. Washington Post, "Turkey detains seven people over escaped Nissan executive Ghosn’s ‘illegal’ transit through Istanbul," 2 Jan. 2020 The company didn't say how many users were affected in that breach and whether any malicious actors had accessed the information. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Holiday Superstar Wyze Suffers Data Leak, and Amazon Makes Returns Easy," 30 Dec. 2019 The longer your password sits there and festers, the better the chance it'll be exposed in a breach. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "These Are the 25 Worst Passwords of 2019. Let's Do Better Next Year.," 20 Dec. 2019 But the franchise and coach Bill Belichick, who would rather walk across hot nails than revisit the aspersions cast by Spygate, vehemently denied that football operations had any part in the breach of NFL rules. Globe Staff,, "Is this Patriots victory a quick fix or a bad sign?," 15 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Instead, CrowdStrike took digital images of the DNC system, capturing files, photos, emails, and browsing history to determine who had breached the system. Washington Post, "As trial nears, Trump keeps discredited Ukraine theory alive," 12 Jan. 2020 In the last year, two Chinese nationals had breached security and entered the club’s grounds. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, "Armed Iranian national detained near Mar-a-Lago," 10 Jan. 2020 The tactical officers breached the rear of the van, made entry, rescued the victim and took the suspect into custody. Carol Robinson |, al, "California man charged in abduction of Alabama woman," 31 Dec. 2019 Having finally breached the gates of King’s Landing, Daenerys Targaryen and her last dragon were poised to restore her family to the Iron Throne. Ew Staff,, "The 30 most shocking TV moments of 2019," 14 Dec. 2019 In the winter, watch for 30-ton gray whales or humpbacks that breach tantalizingly close to shore. Erin E. Williams,, "Head to La Paz rather than overdeveloped Los Cabos for the real Baja California Sur," 4 Oct. 2019 Huddersfield had launched their new home kit in July featuring diagonal shoulder to hip Paddy Power branding that breached the FA’s strict regulations on shirt sponsorship., "Huddersfield Fined £50,000 by FA Over Controversial Paddy Power Kit Stunt," 5 Sep. 2019 Companies that breach the law can be fined up to 4% of their annual revenue. Hadas Gold, CNN, "This European court case against Facebook could have implications far beyond tech," 9 July 2019 The United Nations atomic agency confirmed that Iran is enriching uranium at levels that breach the 2015 nuclear agreement, leaving France, Britain and Germany with delicate decisions in the coming days over how to respond. Laurence Norman, WSJ, "Iran’s Breach of Nuclear Deal Tests European Resolve," 8 July 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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Learn More about breach

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

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Breach.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 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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a feeling of well-being or elation

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