Definition of encroach
1 : to enter by gradual steps or by stealth into the possessions or rights of another
2 : to advance beyond the usual or proper limits the gradually encroaching sea
encroachmentplay \in-ˈkrōch-mənt, en\ noun
encroach was our Word of the Day on 06/24/2013. Hear the podcast!
Examples of encroach in a Sentence
The suburbs encroach further into the rural areas each year.
each year the sea continues to encroach upon the island's beaches
Recent Examples of encroach from the Web
The agreement became a focal point of the geopolitical battle between Moscow and Brussels over the future of Ukraine, which President Vladimir V. Putin considers an integral part of historical Russia and a vital buffer against an encroaching NATO.
The black mamba's numbers aren't in decline yet, but as humans encroach further on their territory, there is concern that bites from startled or cornered snakes will increase.
By the 1960s, however, homeowner discontent about encroaching sprawl led individuals to band together to form homeowner groups.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'encroach'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
The history behind "encroach" is likely to hook you in. First appearing in English in the 16th century, the word derives from the Middle English "encrochen," which means "to get or seize." The Anglo-French predecessor of "encrochen" is "encrocher," which was formed by combining the prefix en- ("in") with the noun "croche" ("hook"). "Croche" also gave us our word crochet, in reference to the hooked needle used in that craft. "Encroach" carries the meaning of "intrude" both in terms of privilege (as demonstrated in our first example sentence) or property (as in our second example sentence). The word can also hop over legal barriers to describe a general advancement beyond desirable or normal limits (such as a hurricane that encroaches on the mainland).
Origin and Etymology of encroach
Middle English encrochen to get, seize, from Anglo-French encrocher, from en- + croc, croche hook — more at crochet
First Known Use: 1528
Synonym Discussion of encroach
ENCROACH Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of encroach for English Language Learners
: to gradually move or go into an area that is beyond the usual or desired limits
: to gradually take or begin to use or affect something that belongs to someone else or that someone else is using
ENCROACH Defined for Kids
Definition of encroach for Students
1 : to take over the rights or property of another little by little or in secret The prince encroached on the king's authority.
2 : to go beyond the usual or proper limits Cities have encroached upon wildlife habitats.
Legal Definition of encroach
: to enter especially gradually or stealthily into the possessions or rights of another encroaches on an adjoining property
Origin and Etymology of encroach
Anglo-French encrocher, probably alteration of acrocher to catch hold of, seize, usurp, from Old French, from a-, prefix stressing goal + croc hook
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up encroach? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).