breach

1 of 2

noun

1
: infraction or violation of a law, obligation, tie, or standard
a breach of trust
sued them for breach of contract
2
a
: 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 deadShakespeare
3
a
: 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

breach

2 of 2

verb

breached; breaching; breaches

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

Did you know?

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
My colleague Louis Sahagún reports that the toll has included a breach of the Los Angeles Aqueduct that occurred last year, as well as damage to systems designed to control dust on the dry bed of Owens Lake. Ian James, Los Angeles Times, 21 Feb. 2024 And with nine out of 10 breaches due to defects in design or code, application security is the foundation of any security program. Brittany Greenfield, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Target strikes deal with Diane von Furstenberg for clothing line 5 important facts to know about debt settlement, according to experts Wyze camera breach may have let 13,000 customers peek into others' homes Kate Gibson Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 20 Feb. 2024 Lockheed has characterized the move as a contract breach. Nicole Lopez, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 Lewis’s trip back to Allenwood, Pa., constituted a breach of the law, the New York judge determined earlier this month. Emily Palmer, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024 Winter said that if Israel undertakes military operations in Rafah involving more than the four infantry battalions as allowed under the agreement, Egypt may assert a breach of the agreement. Nadeen Ebrahim, CNN, 13 Feb. 2024 As a consequence, landlords may have to inject more money to cure any loan-to-value breaches or risk having the properties seized by lenders. Neil Callanan, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 That breach followed a Ukrainian counteroffensive backed by billions of dollars in Western weapons donations that failed to achieve a breakthrough, despite costing thousands of Ukrainian casualties. Marc Santora, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024
Verb
Was the family with two kids breaching the ‘one child policy’? Patrick Frater, Variety, 17 Feb. 2024 Late last month, a Delaware court struck down Elon Musk’s $55.8 billion Tesla pay package in response to a shareholder lawsuit that claimed the proposal breached fiduciary duty to investors. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 In 2021, he was sentenced to more than 2½ years in prison, in part for breaching probation rules, a decision his supporters called entirely political. Mary Ilyushina, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 The second article accuses Mr. Mayorkas of breaching the public trust by misrepresenting the state of the border and stymieing congressional efforts to investigate him. Karoun Demirjian, New York Times, 13 Feb. 2024 Hunt placed a paper cup of coffee in his hand, and the two of them gathered up a half dozen binders as the sun breached the horizon, falling on the South Lawn and an encampment of Truthers that had occupied the green around the Washington Monument. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 8 Feb. 2024 Reuters — Australia will introduce laws giving workers the right to ignore unreasonable calls and messages from their bosses outside of work hours without penalty, with potential fines for employers that breach the rule. Reuters, CNN, 8 Feb. 2024 The Homeland Security Committee last week approved two articles of impeachment that claim Mayorkas failed to enforce U.S. immigration laws and breached public trust in congressional testimonies about the U.S.-Mexico border. Gillian Brassil, Sacramento Bee, 6 Feb. 2024 According to the complaint, Hodges then entered the Capitol building through the Senate Wing Door that rioters breached about an hour earlier. Joe Marusak, Charlotte Observer, 2 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'breach.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

derivative of breach entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1547, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near breach

Cite this Entry

“Breach.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/breach. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

breach

1 of 2 noun
1
: violation of a law, duty, or tie
a breach of trust
2
a
: a broken or torn condition or area
b
: a gap (as in a wall) made by breaking through
3
: a break in friendly relations
4
: a leap especially of a whale out of water

breach

2 of 2 verb
1
: to make a breach in
2
: break entry 1 sense 2, violate
breach an agreement
3
: to leap out of water

Legal Definition

breach

noun
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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)
breach verb
breacher noun

More from Merriam-Webster on breach

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