encroach

verb
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 encroachment (audio) , en \ noun

Synonyms for encroach

Synonyms

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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 Often, those new towers must encroach upon once-sacred residential and retail areas in South Florida. Andrew Boryga, sun-sentinel.com, "That pine tree isn’t what you think. More cellphone towers are built in disguise.," 9 Nov. 2019 Video officials had been red-hot on goalkeepers 'encroaching' off their lines at penalties, and Alexander appeared to be just too soon going forward. SI.com, "Scotland 3-3 Argentina: High VARma in Paris as World Cup Underdogs Knock Each Other Out," 31 Oct. 2019 To the south, the Ninglick River bank is encroaching, an unrelenting crumbling that creeps closer each year. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "A Western Alaska village, long threatened by erosion and flooding, begins to relocate," 19 Oct. 2019 Waters encroach on the east side of town near the water, where oil refineries and chemical plants could continue to service our catastrophic addiction to oil and gas. Allegra Kirkland, Quartz, "What climate change will do to three major American cities by 2100," 18 Oct. 2019 In a mirror image, central banks are starting to encroach on fiscal policy, the territory of governments. The Economist, "Macroeconomics The world economy’s strange new rules," 10 Oct. 2019 Roads and buildings had been encroaching on their root systems. Los Angeles Times, "Yosemite’s Sequoias have a vital message. Listen to them, urges Terry Tempest Williams," 7 Oct. 2019 The state may encroach no farther on the constitutional liberty of religious institutions. David French, National Review, "A California Court Deals a Blow to Religious Liberty; It’s Time for SCOTUS to Act," 20 Sep. 2019 But many residents say mainland China is already starting to encroach on those rights. Tara John, CNN, "Why Hong Kong is protesting," 13 Aug. 2019

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

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Encroach.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/encroaches. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for encroach

encroach

verb
How to pronounce encroach (audio)

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

encroach

verb
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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