Definition of breach in English:


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  • 1An act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.

    ‘a breach of confidence’
    • ‘they alleged breach of copyright’
    • ‘It says his actions were not in breach of the code of conduct, but he should have been advised by a planning officer and a note kept of the discussion and then circulated.’
    • ‘This kind of moonlighting is in breach of the code of conduct of the civil service, according to a report by the government service commission.’
    • ‘In the month before her death she had given a patient an injection when she was not qualified to do so, in breach of the nursing code of conduct and hospital policy.’
    • ‘And if they are found in breach of their code of conduct they could face being banned from holding office for up to five years.’
    • ‘But she says the company is clearly in breach of its own code of business conduct.’
    • ‘Umpires will report code of conduct breaches and where a breach occurs, it will be dealt with.’
    • ‘In breach of the option agreement, the defendants did not call the meeting.’
    • ‘In breach of the said Agreement the Defendant failed to either refinance/employ or to sell as set out above.’
    • ‘Can you face disciplinary action if you're found to be in breach of a Code of Conduct?’
    • ‘I am talking about gross breaches of code of conduct.’
    • ‘The country is currently in breach of the Kyoto Agreement and continuing high emissions will result in a heavy penalties accruing to this country and to Irish taxpayers.’
    • ‘We consider that he may be in breach of his tenancy agreement and if he continues then we will consider taking further action.’
    • ‘The 18-year-old is seven months pregnant and was issued to leave her unit by Thursday because she had been in breach of the tenancy agreement.’
    • ‘However, crew members are continuing a campaign the company claims is in breach of working agreements.’
    • ‘They also have the right to pursue a prosecution of those found to be in breach of national agreements through the courts.’
    • ‘Several residents are already taking legal advice on whether the council is in breach of contract by neglecting repairs.’
    • ‘Officers would notify the association if they were called to a property on a matter which was in breach of tenancy agreements.’
    • ‘Outsourcing would be in breach of an agreement between the Council and its staff, he said.’
    • ‘This is in breach of an agreement that consoles can play only DVDs sold domestically.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, a committee set up to monitor the shaky truce considered imposing sanctions on sides found in breach of the agreement.’
    contravention, violation, breaking, non-observance, infringement, transgression, neglect, dereliction
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    1. 1.1A break in relations.
      ‘a sudden breach between father and son’
      • ‘But once the tanks had rolled over the tents of the hunger strikers and once the bodies had been removed and the blood washed away, what was left was a breach between party and people that would never heal.’
      • ‘And he should tell the Cuban leader that his revolution won't be won until the breach between Cuba and the USA is mended.’
      • ‘Frankly, it would be difficult to imagine a greater breach between what residents of Toronto want for their city and the decisions that are being made about it.’
      • ‘But it demonstrates a decisive change of style that could help heal the growing breach between liberals and conservatives in the church.’
      • ‘The breach between the bishops and the Democrats is unlikely to heal.’
      • ‘When the group almost split over the issue of whether to focus on confrontational action or voter registration, she healed the breach by saying it should work on both.’
      • ‘The deal, it was said, would enhance the fight against crime and was an important step towards healing the breach between Europe and Washington.’
      • ‘In addition, at the core of the autobiographical process is a breach between the writing ‘I’ and the written one.’
      • ‘For some time he was an admirer of Wagner, but was eventually unable to accept the Christian and nationalist elements in Wagner's outlook, and a breach between the two men took place.’
      • ‘In such panels, the breach between a strictly topographical map and a map of a socially inscribed landscape becomes clear.’
      • ‘There is no indication that the breach between the two women ever healed, though Jabavu did reconcile with her husband.’
      • ‘It leads to a breach between Jung and his mentor.’
      • ‘Edward married Godwine's daughter Edith in 1045, but this could not prevent a breach between the two men in 1049.’
      • ‘Yet before the Galileo affair there had been neither a breach between religion and science nor any distinction between science and philosophy.’
      • ‘The breach between the world of the living and of the dead is held, through the dialect of memory, in tension.’
      • ‘I should have come to your room and tried to mend the painful breach between us after all these years.’
      • ‘It is this reconciliation that heals the memory and seals the breach between the past and the future.’
      • ‘The breach between revolutionary France and the Roman Church was complete.’
      • ‘Opposition to academies was accentuated by the widening breach between creative artists and the bourgeois public after aristocratic patronage declined.’
      • ‘Too often American soldiers and commanders have been flung into the breach between illusion and reality.’
      rift, gulf, chasm, division, difference, schism, disunion, estrangement, alienation, discord, dissension, disaffection
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  • 2A gap in a wall, barrier, or defense, especially one made by an attacking army.

    ‘a breach in the mountain wall’
    • ‘The CASEVAC used the breach made by the sappers to get the vehicles on the OBJ.’
    • ‘To prevent such an assault, defenders were forced to attack the siege engines or their operators to prevent a breach in their fortifications.’
    • ‘The soldiers gave chase as their attack was shifted to the breach in the city wall.’
    • ‘Thus the Soviets had succeeded in making deep breaches in the line on both flanks of the Sixth Army; there was a grave danger of encirclement.’
    • ‘The tanks cease-fire and we file through a breach in the outer wall.’
    • ‘This defense is most effective in combat action to close fire breaches and gaps in the battle order of troops.’
    • ‘The enemy succeeded in making a large breach in the outer wall and swarmed in.’
    • ‘Fifty feet or less from this intersection was a line of riot cops plugging a ragged breach in the hated wall.’
    • ‘Bridges spanning it at ground and second floor levels lead to curving breaches in the wall.’
    • ‘France, Germany, Italy and Spain, were interposed, walls yet without a breach, between us and the plague.’
    • ‘Traditionally, intervention has been defined in terms of a coercive breach of the walls of the castle of sovereignty.’
    • ‘Everson therefore marked the first breach in the wall of separation between church and state.’
    • ‘Once the armored soldier has created a breach, the next step is to enter and clear the room/hallway.’
    • ‘Soon the maids were swarming around the breach in the wall as bees desperately trying to protect its beehive.’
    • ‘But the application is subject to the entire curtilage of the site remaining in the ownership of the new house, with no breaches of the boundary wall.’
    • ‘We had only opened a few breaches in its walls, without destroying it.’
    • ‘I thought the garden was walled all round, but there is a breach in the wall at the back which a healthy animal could have hurdled.’
    • ‘The breach in the flood wall widened to 60 metres the next day.’
    • ‘But now, thanks to miracle of siege engines, instead of having to starve them out you can simply make a breach in their walls and - presto!’
    • ‘That meant that a maximum of 10 per cent of stored fuel could escape in the event of a breach of a tank wall.’
    break, rupture, split, crack, fracture, rent, rift
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/brēCH/ /britʃ/

transitive verb

[with object]
  • 1Make a gap in and break through (a wall, barrier, or defense)

    ‘the river breached its bank’
    • ‘For the first fortnight the Turks assaulted the land defences, breaching the outer walls, but could still not get inside.’
    • ‘Last year's floods in Gowdall led to over 100 properties being flooded after a barrier bank was breached by the River Aire.’
    • ‘That includes bringing back the 10-acre lake built in the 1740s, but drained in 1922 when the dam wall was breached.’
    • ‘Restoration of a lake that drained away when a dam wall was breached is a major part of the plan.’
    • ‘And yet it wasn't just because of policing that we fell short of the critical mass to implement the ambitious goal of breaching the security fence around the conference center.’
    • ‘The compensation order was made after she breached the security fences of RAF Leeming in March last year, and for a similar failed attempt on Menwith Hill.’
    • ‘Yes, the injured protestor breached the security fence.’
    • ‘At the end of the service, a riot broke out and demonstrators together with detainees managed to breach the security fence.’
    • ‘The problem is that there is often little or nothing to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive customer records - once they breach firewall defences.’
    • ‘Security personnel used tear gas and pepper spray on others who have attempted to breach security fences surrounding the bombing range.’
    • ‘And nobody worried about breaching the wall between church and state.’
    • ‘The warrant was rejected because FBI officials feared breaching the wall.’
    • ‘At 44 metres long, the Germans discovered the tunnel when it had only a few metres left before breaching the wall.’
    • ‘The lava eventually breached the barriers, but it was hindered enough that it atrophied before scorching inhabited land.’
    • ‘It is by no means easy to gain access to that tight legal circle and I am the first outsider to have breached the walls.’
    • ‘Walk south from the old Checkpoint Charlie to the approximate place I stood one week after the Berlin Wall was breached in 1989.’
    • ‘A testimony of the severity of the conditions is that for the first time in many years the one-hour barrier was not breached.’
    • ‘It's when a wall is breached between players and fans that things get crazy.’
    • ‘When I got to the school, I saw that the wall was breached in two spots.’
    • ‘I talk to her about it and she rolls her eyes and looks at me as if I have just breached some invisible wall she had set up.’
    break, break through, burst, burst through, rupture, force itself through, split
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    1. 1.1Break or fail to observe (a law, agreement, or code of conduct)
      ‘these outside bodies are bootlegging albums and breaching copyright’
      • ‘A councillor who tried to hit a protester at a public meeting breached a code of conduct but will not face disciplinary action, an investigation found yesterday.’
      • ‘But the Board has decided not to refer the matter to an Ethical Standards Officer for investigation as it has ruled that the comments had not breached its code of conduct.’
      • ‘This worship is bred out of either greed of knowledge and favours or the fear of having breached some code of conduct, and sometimes out of respect for having found the answer.’
      • ‘The hearing follows only a week after the first public appearance of an MSP facing allegations that he breached the code of conduct.’
      • ‘If the show is found to have breached the code of conduct regulating the use of premium phone lines, viewers could be entitled to their money back.’
      • ‘Any player found guilty of breaching our code of conduct will be dealt with severely through internal disciplinary procedures.’
      • ‘Membership is voluntary and, if something goes wrong, the most it can do is either caution a member, issue a formal warning or fine, suspend or expel it for breaching the Code of Conduct.’
      • ‘All three players were charged with breaching the code of conduct during the second one-day international in the ongoing five-match series.’
      • ‘The report says that some insurers are breaching codes of conduct laid down by the General Insurance Standards Council and the Association of British Insurers.’
      • ‘An investigation report has now accused you of breaching the code of conduct for councillors.’
      • ‘If you breach the Code of Conduct, you could be up for disciplinary measures, you could even be up at the end of the day to be sacked.’
      • ‘In Frankfurt schools, parents sign an agreement that provides for the expulsion of any child found to have breached their code of conduct.’
      • ‘However, both men have denied that they acted unlawfully or breached copyright laws concerning the matter.’
      • ‘A town hall employee claims he was victimised after accusing his boss of breaching the council's code of conduct by accepting tickets to watch a premiership soccer match.’
      • ‘An individual is not guilty of misconduct if he or she was unable to avoid the improper act or omission complained of or was in a position where it was impossible to avoid breaching the relevant code of conduct.’
      • ‘Nothing in this Agreement shall require either party to breach any applicable law or regulatory requirement.’
      • ‘If this became law, any publication found breaching the PCC's code could be fined up to £500,000.’
      • ‘But there would be a real danger of liability if the lender's actions made it a shadow director, and knowing that the borrower was breaching environmental law, the lender failed to use its powers to stop the borrower.’
      • ‘It is also considering taking legal action against the Government for breaching an agreement to regulate pharmacies and control the opening of new branches.’
      • ‘But while it may not breach broadcasting regulations, it may breach the law against sedition, as it incites disaffection against the crown.’
      break, contravene, violate, fail to comply with, infringe, transgress against
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  • 2no object (of a whale) rise and break through the surface of the water.

    ‘we saw whales breaching in the distance’
    • ‘Glass structures fascinate me, and I'd like to work with that someday, to create a dolphin leaping out of the water or a whale breaching, something like that.’
    • ‘Where would we be as a nation without bald eagles soaring over the Chesapeake Bay, wolves howling from the backcountry of Yellowstone or gray whales breaching from Pacific waters?’
    • ‘Barely fifty yards from the boat a Humped Back Whale breached, rising over thirty feet out of the water before twisting and falling back into the sea with an amazing crash.’
    • ‘Three humpback whales breach in the distance, and closer a large green sea turtle floats blissfully in the waves.’
    • ‘On the way into the harbor we were welcomed by the antics of a humpback whale breaching for almost 10 minutes outside the reef at the entrance.’
    • ‘The Ryder Cup is eight months and 7500 miles away from the Mercedes, where whales breach offshore, the trade winds blow and golf is anything but that long walk spoiled.’
    • ‘The sun is shining, the sea is calm, the whales are breaching and a large pod of dolphins comes to escort our departure.’
    • ‘The shots of soaring whales, breaching through the clouds, is still pretty breathtaking.’
    • ‘We also witnessed humpback whales blowing and diving, breaching and slapping their fins and flukes.’
    • ‘They were breaching and coming out of the water.’
    • ‘The white side of the fortress surfaced briefly, a breaching white whale, before waves splashed up the sides and it rolled back down into the deeps.’
    • ‘It was porpoises, breaching and rolling as they trailed the tug in hope of picking off fish addled by the prop churn.’
    • ‘Great White Sharks have undoubtedly breached for centuries but at certain localities it happens more often than at others.’
    • ‘They move about in various directions, exhibiting social and feeding behavior, with tail-slapping and breaching.’



/brēCH/ /britʃ/


    breach of contract
    • An act of breaking the terms set out in a contract.

      ‘I'm going to raise this as a breach of contract’
      • ‘the theater promptly sued him for breach of contract’
      • ‘Hypothetically, if someone gives out their login, against our contract, it would be a breach of contract.’
      • ‘If the judges found the real reason he had to leave was because he had special educational needs, then there would have been a breach of contract.’
      • ‘The group argues that its unwillingness to give the council written details of its activities constitute a breach of contract, which should now be terminated.’
      • ‘The company is seeking both past and future commissions totalling over £4 million together with damages for a breach of contract.’
      • ‘He took the festival to court arguing the performance was a breach of contract.’
    breach of promise
    • The action of breaking a sworn assurance to do something, formerly especially to marry someone.

      ‘Anastasia cherishes the recollection of having won an action for breach of promise’
      • ‘Would an action for damages for breach of promise of marriage be within this?’
      • ‘But in litigation over breach of promise for payment of damages, it was possible that she might claim to have been engaged to a more promising man.’
      • ‘The decision suggests that a legal remedy for a breach of promise by a politician, while not impossible, is very difficult to achieve.’
      • ‘Unmarried pregnant women sometimes requested damages from the judge, suing the father for breach of promise.’
      • ‘But we have to recoup what we spent on the project so we are suing Tracey for breach of promise in his personal capacity.’
      • ‘I don't know how you sue a government for breach of promise.’
      • ‘A parish council that enraged villagers by shutting a skateboard park faces being sued for alleged breach of promise by parents and children who secured funding for a £70,000 replacement - which now may never be built.’
      • ‘The spurned party sued for breach of promise and was awarded 2,000 in compensation.’
      • ‘The judge pointed out that the 1981 Family Law Act had abolished actions for breach of promise of marriage.’
      • ‘It baffles us why the world soccer's governing body should publicly raise the issue in a breach of promise, hampering the otherwise smooth preparations for the quadrennial global sports festivity.’
      • ‘Others say that even if rice-exporting countries sue Korea with the global trade body for the breach of promise, there won't be much damage because the nation can gain more time.’
      • ‘If they do not report the matter it may constitute a breach of promise.’
      • ‘The cast of players involved in the disputes and lawsuits examined over paternity, illegitimacy and breach of promise included more than just young couples and judges.’
      • ‘The court said that the breach of contract related to an agreement to marry, but the 1981 Family Law Act had abolished actions for breach of promise.’
      • ‘That is one of its most basic breaches of promise.’
      • ‘Interestingly, much of the public arguing, fighting and disputing surrounding paternity and breach of promise was carried out by the parents of the man accused of fathering the child, and especially by his mother.’
      • ‘We have had a personal assurance from a previous Home Secretary that the police will not have to pay, so it would be a substantial breach of promise if that were not the case.’
      • ‘Perhaps that is not to be regarded in this context as some kind of breach of promise!’
      • ‘The promise to marry continued to have legal force and breach of promise cases could be brought by a fiancée whose reputation was deemed to have been tarnished by a broken engagement.’
    breach of the peace
    • An act of violent or noisy behavior that causes a public disturbance and is considered a criminal offense.

      ‘a man was convicted of causing a breach of the peace during the demonstration’
      • ‘Despite the lack of defense, the tribunal condemned the accused to death for culpable homicide unlawful assembly and breach of the peace.’
      • ‘One of the most important offences is that of behaving in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace at common law.’
      • ‘They were held on charges ranging from being drunk and disorderly, breach of the peace and public order offences.’
      • ‘The only power of arrest under the common law relates to breaches of the peace.’
      • ‘It is also clear that a person may be arrested for causing a breach of the peace or where it is reasonably apprehended that he or she is likely to cause a breach of the peace.’
      • ‘In Brazil the defendant had been arrested and taken to the police station for acting in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace.’
      • ‘No doubt there are arguments in favour of extending PACE to apply to arrest and detention for breach of the peace.’
      • ‘The jury decided that Fraser had assaulted one of them by forcing him to the ground, handcuffing him and wrongfully arresting him for breach of the peace.’
      • ‘It is the run-of-the-mill crimes and offences such as break-ins, car crime, assaults, breaches of the peace, and general annoyance within communities which predominate and concern law-abiding citizens.’
      • ‘This paper considers the various powers which are available to the police in respect of actual or anticipated breaches of the peace, and then questions whether they are necessary.’
      • ‘Vandals, drunks and those suspected of minor assault or breach of the peace would be arrested and taken to a police station where the fixed penalty offer would be made.’
      • ‘She said they would be charged with breach of the peace and malicious damage offences.’
      • ‘One male was arrested for breach of the peace and will be reported to the procurator fiscal.’
      • ‘All four were subsequently charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.’
      • ‘He was arrested for an alleged breach of the peace, including three charges of assaulting police officers.’
      • ‘A man appeared from custody at Kirkwall Sheriff Court on Monday morning charged with assault, breach of the peace and possession of cannabis resin.’
      • ‘Since he has not been found guilty of a breach of the peace, he has not breached his probation order and will be found not guilty of that count as well.’
      • ‘I am sure there remained a constant risk of further domestic incidents involving violence and breach of the peace.’
      • ‘The only time the exemption does not apply is in cases of treason, a felony or breach of the peace.’
    step into the breach
    • Replace someone who is suddenly unable to do a job or task.

      ‘I can't think of anyone who could step into the breach should I become ill’
      • ‘Others argue that it is extremely unlikely that the Scottish Executive or Westminster would suddenly step into the breach and come to the rescue with a potful of cash.’
      • ‘He suggested that if the Rivers Agency did not have the manpower to complete the task then the Council would be more than happy to step into the breach.’
      • ‘Perhaps now that society doesn't reward the maternal instinct in the way it once did there is a gap to fill and men, newly emasculated, are stepping into the breach.’
      • ‘The National Heritage Memorial Fund stepped into the breach and handed over £1 million to cover the work.’
      • ‘Eventually he is unable to call the numbers, so Bobby steps into the breach and becomes an overnight hit.’
      • ‘So the worker who appears to be extremely diligent and hard working, can in fact perhaps be trying to cover up their tracks and make sure there's no opportunity for anyone to step into the breach and uncover their fraudulent acts?’
      • ‘Well, not if - I would echo what Jonah says - not if someone else steps into the breach.’
      • ‘However, if the US consumer, the mainstay of much of the US's positive economic performance until September 11, decides to cool off for a while, the manufacturing sector is showing signs of stepping into the breach for a change.’
      • ‘A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said: ‘It is good news that someone is stepping into the breach, not just for the holidaymaker but for all those who have second homes in northern France.’’
      • ‘The little guys have reached the breaking point and are taking matters into their own hands - stepping into the breach with the one-two punch of proxy resolutions and lawsuits.’
      • ‘But he's disappeared, for now, so I'm stepping into the breach.’
      • ‘Critics will say NGOs aren't simply gallantly stepping into the breach, rather they actually seek to perpetuate their power in crises like this.’
      • ‘But last week it was announced that the town's jazz society was stepping into the breach and the show would go on for just £6,000.’
      • ‘Our thanks must go to them for stepping into the breach.’
      • ‘So, in the interest of returning some level of sanity to public discourse, I am stepping into the breach.’
      • ‘Principals and deputy principals stepped into the breach after Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland members withdrew from the work over a year ago.’
      • ‘The job is currently vacant at the moment, which is fun for all concerned - so I have bravely stepped into the breach, much to the relief of the lovely-sounding head librarian at the school.’


Middle English from Old French breche, ultimately of Germanic origin; related to break.