Breach or breech?

03 May
Breach or breech?

I was asked about this one by my lovely friend Linda, a good friend and a super editor, too. It’s sometimes hard to think up new troublesome pairs to write about, so I love it when people suggest them to me, often because they’ve encountered someone else confusing them, sometimes for themselves (it’s the former in Linda’s case).

To breach something (the verb) means to make a hole in it OR to break something like an agreement or a law, or simply a code of conduct. A breach (the noun) is the result of someone breaching something: it’s the act of breaking an agreement or a law (a breach of conduct) or a gap or hole in a wall or other barrier. “By wearing jeans in the dining room, he breached the club’s formal dress policy”. It’s often used in a military sense, but in a general one, too.

The breech (noun only) is the part of a cannon, gun or rifle barrel that is behind the bore. The old-fashioned use of the word means a person’s buttocks, but this survives chiefly in the term “a breech birth” which occurs when a baby is turned around in the womb so that its bottom or feet emerge first.

Breeches (which that last sense of breech comes from) are short trousers, ending just below the knee, which are nowadays used in ceremonial or riding dress.

Breaches are multiple gaps in a wall, etc. or multiple infringements of policy and laws.

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!


Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Errors, Language use



3 responses to “Breach or breech?

  1. D.E. Haggerty

    May 3, 2017 at 10:33 am

    My military past wants to breach the enemy’s defenses but not while wearing breeches. I struggled with bear or bare today. *Blushes in shame*


    • Liz Dexter

      May 7, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Well we all have our issues! I will write about one in the next month that I always struggle with – but I won’t let on, of course!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don Massenzio

    May 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Check out this post from the Libro Editing blog on when to use breach or breech.

    Liked by 1 person


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