\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

Carter backed out after two, Puma sued for breach of contract, and Carter was ordered to pay back $13.5 million while not wearing or endorsing a competitor’s sneakers for three years. Mark Zeigler,, "Puma jumping into basketball is good for players, but it is good for the game?," 5 July 2018 Consumers would be able to sue companies if a data breach leads to their unencrypted information being exposed or stolen. Liam Dillon,, "Negotiating and name-calling as California lawmakers head off ballot battles," 29 June 2018 The suit is one of two filed last month by former Texans cheerleaders, complaining of wage violations, breach of contract, negligence and other issues. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Texans attorneys request to dismiss cheerleader lawsuit," 15 June 2018 Building trust is made even more challenging by the sensational sound bites and hot headlines about the failings of Facebook, the Equifax breach, and the security flaws in microprocessors. Eric Dishman, STAT, "I handed over my genetic data to the NIH. Here’s why you should, too," 13 June 2018 Lawmakers are ironing out differences in bills the House and Senate passed aimed at protecting consumers’ credit in the midst of a rashof data breaches. Joshua Miller,, "A long list of priorities on Beacon Hill, but lawmakers are getting short on time," 11 June 2018 Trump tweeting about the jobs numbers is a serious breach of protocol, but not one that privileged specific interests over others. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Did Trump tell anyone about the jobs report before he tweeted about it?," 1 June 2018 The online ticketing portal is down because of the Ticketfly breach, but tickets are also sold at the door. Eder Campuzano,, "Frankie Simone readies Portland for her fiery debut EP, 'Love//Warrior'," 31 May 2018 In Estonia, powerful digital encryption guards against data breaches. The Economist, "Britain’s Windrush mess revives support for ID cards," 3 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ildephones has been formally charged breaching bail conditions, cruelty to animals, burglary, indecent exposure, simple assault, reckless conduct and criminal mischief. Chris Harris,, "Naked N.H. Man Allegedly Strangled a Golden Retriever," 22 June 2018 Some funds are seeking ways to explore new datasets without breaching privacy. The Economist, "Hedge funds worry about the legal risks of using “alternative” data," 21 June 2018 That would be worth more than $6 billion at the current rate of about $6,500, though most of those were spent before Bitcoin first breached $100 in late 2013. Ilya Khrennikov,, "Million-Dollar Box Conjures Up a Fortune for Bitcoin Visionary," 19 June 2018 Meanwhile, Israeli forces are trying to prevent protesters from potentially breaching the border. Alex Ward, Vox, "White House absolves Israel of all responsibility in Gaza deaths," 14 May 2018 In 2016, Russian hackers targeted election systems in 21 states, breaching a voter database in Illinois. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: Election security legislation may be gaining steam in Congress," 12 July 2018 When Puma first breached the NBA, sneaker endorsements were essentially unheard of. Matt Giles, Longreads, "Puma’s Ploy to Become Relevant in Basketball Again," 21 June 2018 If the telescope does breach the cap, Congress would need to sign off on a funding increase. Alex Stuckey, Houston Chronicle, "Bridenstine: NASA may ask Congress for more money for James Webb Telescope," 23 May 2018 Hungary is currently being investigated by the European Court of Justice over last year's legislation, which could breach European Union laws on the free movement of capital and violate freedoms enshrined in the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. Judith Vonberg, CNN, "George Soros foundation leaves Hungary amid government crackdown," 15 May 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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Learn More about breach

Statistics for breach

Last Updated

9 Oct 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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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