\ˈbrēch \

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


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.


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 Italian side need to sell this summer though after they were found in breach of Financial Fair Play regulations., "AC Milan Captain Leonardo Bonucci Reportedly Set to Complete Shock Move to Paris Saint-Germain," 3 July 2018 This Opinion does no more than hold the Government accountable to its own policy, which recently has been honored more in the breach than the observance. Spencer S. Hsu,, "Judge blocks crackdown on asylum seekers, bars blanket detentions of those with persecution claims," 2 July 2018 In that breach, hackers gained access to an enormous about of consumer data. Michael E. Kanell, ajc, "Nine months after breach, Equifax names IBM-er new tech chief," 14 June 2018 Email addresses and hashed passwords of more than 92 million MyHeritage users were exposed in a cybersecurity breach on October 26, 2017, the popular genealogy company reported Monday, June 4, 2018. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "92 million MyHeritage users had their data quietly swiped," 5 June 2018 Any extension without Iran's explicit consent would put the Europeans themselves in breach of the deal. Josh Lederman, Fox News, "Behind the scenes of Trump's decision to abandon Iran deal," 11 May 2018 The Ivy League university has told the court that releasing the files would be an unprecedented breach of its inner workings. Washington Post, "Suit alleging bias pulls back curtain on Harvard admissions," 9 July 2018 This Opinion does no more than hold the Government accountable to its own policy, which recently has been honored more in the breach than the observance. Spencer S. Hsu, The Seattle Times, "Judge blocks crackdown on asylum seekers, bars blanket detentions of those with persecution claims," 3 July 2018 According to the Lawfare Project, which challenged the city council's motion, court said that this policy of boycotting Israel was in breach of constitutional civil rights and freedoms of nondiscrimination and equality before the law. Jewish Journal, "Spanish high court rules anti-Israel boycott is unconstitutional," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Specifically, the lawsuit accuses the hospital of breaching its fiduciary duty to protect patient privacy under Missouri law. Kelsey Ryan, kansascity, "Children’s Mercy faces class action lawsuit over data breach affecting thousands," 10 July 2018 This data is stored for up to 30 days, but may be held longer if you’ve been accused of breaching HMA’s end user agreement or acceptable use policy—then the data may be held for up to three months. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "Hide My Ass Pro 4 review: A noticeable upgrade with great speeds," 27 June 2018 The Americans and Israelis have assailed critics for not explicitly blaming Hamas for the border protests, in which some protesters have attempted to breach the fence or have lobbed firebombs and sent flaming kites over the fence into Israel. New York Times, "U.N. General Assembly Vote Castigates Israel Over Gaza Deaths," 13 June 2018 There were no major attempts to breach the border and the gatherings were much smaller than the last big protest on May 14, which drew more 40,000 people and turned deadly as some protesters charged the fence. Felicia Schwartz, WSJ, "Palestinian Protests Turn Violent Again But Gatherings Smaller," 8 June 2018 But the backdrop to Monday’s ceremony could not have been uglier: By the start of the event, Israeli soldiers had reportedly killed dozens of Palestinian protestors, allegedly in response to their attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel border. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "It’s anything but a “glorious” day in Israel.," 14 May 2018 Friday, attorneys filed a class action in Pierce County Superior Court, accusing the MultiCare Health System of breaching its duty of care to 2,600 Good Samaritan patients who were potentially exposed to or infected by the hepatitis C virus. Sean Robinson, The Seattle Times, "Class-action suit filed in Puyallup hospital hepatitis C case," 13 May 2018 No president has been formally accused of breaching the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses before. Zach Everson, Condé Nast Traveler, "Inside the World’s Most Controversial Hotel," 2 May 2018 In other ways, the Trumps avoided breaching protocol. Katie Rogers, New York Times, "From Truman to Trump, Queen Elizabeth Has Met 12 U.S. Presidents," 13 July 2018

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

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \

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 \

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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Comments on breach

What made you want to look up breach? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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