\ 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 The judge also ordered Kesha to pay $374,000 in interest on back royalty payments to Gottwald’s company in breach of her contract. Althea Legaspi, Rolling Stone, "Kesha Loses in Appeal of Dr. Luke Defamation Ruling," 22 Apr. 2021 Organizations need to ask themselves how many different ways an attacker could access critical assets in a breach and whether current security controls have been tested to detect and respond to the threat effectively. Expert Panel®, Forbes, "16 Essential Questions An Effective Cybersecurity Assessment Must Answer," 20 Apr. 2021 Bennie Parker and Sandra Parker of Morrow are accused of participating in the breach with the Oath Keepers. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, "100 days after U.S. Capitol breach, Ohio is sixth on list of protest indictments," 16 Apr. 2021 The charges are in breach of promises made in its customer account agreements, the complaint adds. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio's Credit Human Federal Credit Union hit with class-action lawsuit over overdraft fees," 14 Apr. 2021 Of course, the companies that make up the IOC’s Olympic Partner Program typically sign contracts that extend through the Summer, Winter, and Youth Olympic Games, and a boycott could put them in breach of their contract. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "What can a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics achieve?," 13 Apr. 2021 Shortly after taking office, Austin observed the arrest of dozens of former and active-duty members of the military for their part in the breach of Capitol security on Jan. 6, among them white nationalists. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Defense Department denies being ‘thought police’ in launch of extremism study," 9 Apr. 2021 First thing's first: There are websites, including, where users can see if their email or phone number was potentially involved in the breach. Clare Duffy, CNN, "So you're one of 533 million in the Facebook leak. What now?," 6 Apr. 2021 Whether or not it is actually honored in the breach, affirmative consent is now used for purposes of investigations and penalties. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, "The Politics of Bad Sex," 31 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Prosecutors argue that the groups led the charge to breach the Capitol, allowing the large pro-Trump mob to swarm the building. Del Quentin Wilber Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Justice Department seeks to revoke pretrial release of two members of the Proud Boys," 31 Mar. 2021 When asked on 60 Minutes whether investigators believed there was a premeditated plan designed by groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys to breach the Capitol, Sherwin said authorities were looking into it. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Prosecutor again hints at Capitol riot sedition charges and scrutiny of Trump's role," 21 Mar. 2021 The Justice Department first charged members of the Oath Keepers last month with plotting to go to Washington to breach the Capitol, its first major conspiracy case, without cooperation. Katie Benner,, "Justice department confronts increasingly complex Capitol riot inquiry," 19 Feb. 2021 In return, Iran has taken steps to breach the agreement and resume nuclear activity. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "U.S., Iran Begin Indirect Talks to Revive 2015 Nuclear Deal," 6 Apr. 2021 The team runs a number of scans and emulated hacks in an attempt to breach the stakeholders’ system network and collect data within that particular network. Seemant Sehgal, Forbes, "Can Automated Pentesting Fix Cybersecurity’s Human Capital Issue?," 5 Apr. 2021 As many as 300 million gallons of wastewater is threatening to breach the reservoir and flood the surrounding area. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Florida prison evacuated amid concerns of 'catastrophic flooding' after reservoir leak discovered," 5 Apr. 2021 The Manatee County Central Jail is at the corner of an evacuation zone surrounding the old Piney Point phosphate mine, where about 300 million gallons of wastewater is threatening to breach a reservoir there and flood the surrounding area. David Aaro, Fox News, "Florida sheriff evacuates hundreds of inmates amid potential plant collapse," 5 Apr. 2021 Rioters breach and storm the Capitol Trump supporters — some of whom had walked from the rally — push past police and break down barriers., "How Trump-supporting rioters stormed the Capitol," 8 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

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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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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