en·​croach | \ in-ˈkrōch How to pronounce encroach (audio) , en- \
encroached; encroaching; encroaches

Definition of encroach

intransitive verb

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

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Other Words from encroach

encroacher noun
encroachment \ in-​ˈkrōch-​mənt How to pronounce encroach (audio) , en \ noun

Synonyms for encroach


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Choose the Right Synonym for encroach

trespass, encroach, infringe, invade mean to make inroads upon the property, territory, or rights of another. trespass implies an unwarranted or unlawful intrusion. hunters trespassing on farmland encroach suggests gradual or stealthy entrance upon another's territory or usurpation of another's rights or possessions. the encroaching settlers displacing the native peoples infringe implies an encroachment clearly violating a right or prerogative. infringing a copyright invade implies a hostile and injurious entry into the territory or sphere of another. accused of invading their privacy

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).

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 on the Web The story goes that, as highways and other infrastructure began to encroach on the swamplands, white residents and visitors began spotting Seminoles hunting gators from the road. Murat Oztaskin, The New Yorker, "How Florida’s Seminole Tribe Transformed Alligator Wrestling Into a Symbol of Independence," 27 Jan. 2021 Similarly, the author of the internal report expressed that putting a stop to the event that the extremists had planned might encroach on the their free speech rights. Elly Belle, refinery29.com, "Did The FBI Know About The Capitol Riot Before It Happened?," 12 Jan. 2021 On the east side of the highway, the route would encroach on federal lands, including the parkway, the National Security Agency at Fort Meade and NASA in Greenbelt. Washington Post, "Federal review of Baltimore-Washington high-speed maglev project moves ahead," 15 Jan. 2021 But legislators have been reluctant to pass a law, even a temporary one, that could encroach on states' tax authority. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "How the pandemic is complicating taxes for millions of Americans," 8 Dec. 2020 Both would encroach upon and cross portions of the park with a passenger tower, stanchions, aerial cables and gondola cars able to whisk some 5,500 people per hour from Union Station to the stadium in about seven minutes, the developer said. Louis Sahagún Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Proposed aerial tram for Dodger fans ignites controversy at Los Angeles State Historic Park," 26 Nov. 2020 Walk-on senior lineman Nathan Brock typically wears No. 50, and Myers did not want to encroach on his senior day ceremony. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "To honor Papaw and Mimi, Ohio State football’s Josh Myers exchanging one family tribute for another against Indiana," 21 Nov. 2020 Trump’s decision to deny such grants would violate the authority of Congress to appropriate funds and would encroach on municipalities’ power to set local policy, Johnson said. Henry Goldman, Bloomberg.com, "NYC, Seattle and Portland Sue Trump on Funding Threat," 22 Oct. 2020 Inhabitants of smaller towns will be forced to evacuate, and the Gulf of Mexico will encroach 10 to 15 miles inland. Richard Mason, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | RICHARD MASON: Time to turn down the heat," 25 Oct. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of encroach

1528, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for encroach

Middle English encrochen to get, seize, from Anglo-French encrocher, from en- + croc, croche hook — more at crochet

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Time Traveler for encroach

Time Traveler

The first known use of encroach was in 1528

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Last Updated

11 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Encroach.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encroach. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for encroach



English Language Learners Definition of encroach

: 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


en·​croach | \ in-ˈkrōch How to pronounce encroach (audio) \
encroached; encroaching

Kids Definition of encroach

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.
en·​croach | \ in-ˈkrōch How to pronounce encroach (audio) \

Legal Definition of encroach

: to enter especially gradually or stealthily into the possessions or rights of another encroaches on an adjoining property

History and Etymology for encroach

Anglo-French encrocher, probably alteration of acrocher to catch hold of, seize, usurp, from Old French, from a-, prefix stressing goal + croc hook

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