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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Some also pointed to a breach of Glas’s right to asylum. Marlon Sorto, CNN, 8 Apr. 2024 News of his conviction comes amid ongoing concerns over data breaches targeting hospital systems and health care networks. CBS News, 8 Apr. 2024 And Kennedy’s name does not appear on the Justice Department’s website listing the defendants in the Capitol breach cases. Daniel Desrochers, Kansas City Star, 3 Apr. 2024 An international team of researchers has been studying synthetic aperture radar (SAR) archival data of the dam and evaluating the larger context behind a deadly breach of the Dnieper river dam—whose collapse led to the death of between 59 and 300 people in the region. IEEE Spectrum, 3 Apr. 2024 Failure to do so won’t mean a breach of the contract, but it would be addressed in the board’s evaluation of his job performance. Danny Shameer, arkansasonline.com, 2 Apr. 2024 The Administration must believe, still, that the better play is to try to figure out a way to work, rather than call out, renounce, or create an open breach, with Israel. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 2 Apr. 2024 Hot Topic shoppers may have had some of their personal information accessed by hackers after the clothing company announced a breach. Jonathan Limehouse, USA TODAY, 1 Apr. 2024 Without it, individuals and organizations face financial losses, reputation damage and potential security breaches. Charles Rotblut, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024
Verb
After the dam embankment in Orsk was breached, Putin ordered Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov to visit the area and has held several online meetings with governors of the affected regions, including Orenburg, Kurgan and Tyumen. CNN, 9 Apr. 2024 If stopping lawbreakers in their tracks means breaching an embassy, then so be it, Ecuadorians interviewed over the weekend told The Associated Press. Regina Garcia Cano and Gabriela Molina, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 Apr. 2024 If perpetrators breach one system, almost like a domino effect, all systems connected are at risk. Tyler Shepherd, USA TODAY, 8 Apr. 2024 In a display of uncommon sophistication, thieves breached the single-story building via its roof to gain access to its vault — and avoided the property’s alarm system, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation of the theft. Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2024 In recent weeks, Mexican military activity has pushed migrants toward the west, a more urban region between Tijuana and California’s San Ysidro where asylum seekers who breach the primary border wall must wait for federal agents in the 280-foot space behind a second one. Emily Baumgaertner, New York Times, 28 Mar. 2024 And there were 56 containers of hazardous materials on board at the time of the crash, some of which were breached. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 28 Mar. 2024 After Ecuadorian authorities evicted him from their embassy in 2019, he was arrested by British police for breaching the terms of his bail. Fatima Al-Kassab, NPR, 26 Mar. 2024 Though some of the containers have been breached, the Coast Guard says there is currently no threat to the public. Suzanne Nuyen, NPR, 28 Mar. 2024

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 22 Apr. 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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