\ 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 Neuberger said the president is expected to take executive action to address cybersecurity gaps identified in a review of the breach. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Sullivan says Biden ready for Iran talks, vows "seen and unseen" response to SolarWinds hack," 21 Feb. 2021 This sort of breach was also a concern with the dating apps Mozilla reviewed. Molly Longman,, "Are Your Sex Toys Putting Your Privacy At Risk?," 11 Feb. 2021 In the aftermath of the breach, investigators identified upward of 400 riot suspects, and at least 150 have been arrested thus far. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, "FBI arrests suspected 'bullhorn lady' from Capitol riot," 5 Feb. 2021 Sund ticked through details on the severity of the breach, but the call got noisy with crosstalk as officials asked more questions. Star Tribune, "Outgoing Capitol Police chief says higher-ups hamstrung effort to call in Guard," 11 Jan. 2021 Sund ticked through details on the severity of the breach, but the call got noisy with crosstalk as officials asked more questions. Anchorage Daily News, "Backup was denied, former Capitol Police chief says," 11 Jan. 2021 Sund ticked through details on the severity of the breach, but the call got noisy with crosstalk as officials asked more questions., "Backup was denied, former Capitol Police chief says," 10 Jan. 2021 All access: Hackers may have had access to Kent State University’s data systems for more than a year as part of the SolarWinds breach, Robin Goist reports. cleveland, "Judge blocks state payments for House Bill 6 as Gov. Mike DeWine searches for a new PUCO chair: Capitol Letter," 22 Dec. 2020 The department learned of the breach not from any of the government agencies whose job is to protect against cyberattacks, but from Microsoft, which runs much of Treasury’s communications software, Mr. Wyden said. New York Times, "Treasury Department’s Senior Leaders Were Targeted by Hacking," 21 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In a handful of cases over those four years, Caltagirone says, the group's attempts to breach those US targets' networks have been successful, leading to access to those utilities that's been intermittent, if not quite persistent. Andy Greenberg, Wired, "Hackers Tied to Russia's GRU Targeted the US Grid for Years, Researchers Warn," 24 Feb. 2021 That has given investigators a window to examine communications to see whether Mr. Stone knew of any plans to breach the complex. New York Times, "Justice Dept. Is Said to Be Examining Stone’s Possible Ties to Capitol Rioters," 20 Feb. 2021 The Republican was acquitted of all charges last Saturday after Democratic lawmakers accused him of instigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that saw thousands of his supporters breach the Capitol in a violent event which led to five deaths. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, "House Democrats introduce bill to bar 'twice impeached' former presidents from burial at Arlington National Cemetery," 18 Feb. 2021 As the crowd was attempting to breach the building, Sund wrote, the Capitol Police Dignitary Protection Division prepared to evacuate congressional leadership. Jack Date, ABC News, "Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund says entire intelligence community missed signs of riot," 6 Feb. 2021 In its case, Iran alleges that the sanctions breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates and promotes economic and consular ties between the two countries. Mike Corder, Star Tribune, "UN court says it can hear case brought by Iran against US," 3 Feb. 2021 As rioters threatened to breach the Capitol on Jan. 6, a staffer rushed into Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office and told her to hide. Jaclyn Peiser, Anchorage Daily News, "Ocasio-Cortez recounts trauma of Capitol riot, reveals she’s a sexual assault survivor," 2 Feb. 2021 Though the rioters managed to breach the Capitol, none of them managed to capture or assault a senator or representative. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Trump Era Could Have Been Much, Much Worse," 30 Jan. 2021 Gieswein, who runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, was among the early wave of invaders to breach the building, court papers say. Katie Benner,, "Justice Department charges militia members, including military veterans, in Capitol assault," 18 Jan. 2021

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

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Breach.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

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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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