encroach

verb

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

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
encroacher noun
encroachment noun

Did you know?

The history behind encroach is likely to hook you in. 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 or property. 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).

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

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 goal is to expand the resort's offerings on its limited space without closing existing attractions or encroaching on staging and support areas for cast members. Michael Salerno, The Arizona Republic, 9 May 2024 Endangered sites face encroaching development Quillen said most sites are not opposed to development. Marc Ramirez, USA TODAY, 3 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for encroach 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'encroach.' 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

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

First Known Use

1528, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of encroach was in 1528

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near encroach

Cite this Entry

“Encroach.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encroach. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

encroach

verb
en·​croach in-ˈkrōch How to pronounce encroach (audio)
1
: to enter or force oneself on another's property or rights little by little
2
: to advance beyond the usual or desirable limits
the gradually encroaching sea
encroachment noun

Legal Definition

encroach

intransitive verb
en·​croach in-ˈkrōch How to pronounce encroach (audio)
: to enter especially gradually or stealthily into the possessions or rights of another
encroaches on an adjoining property
Etymology

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

More from Merriam-Webster on encroach

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!