Breach, Breech

By Sharon

Mind the gap! The famous London Underground announcement can help to remind us when to use breach. Although often confused with breech, breach has an entirely different meaning. It originates from old French and was used in a military sense to denote a gap in fortifications. These days it applies to any gap, break or violation. Examples are:

  • To breach the enemy’s defenses
  • A breach of the peace
  • A breach of the wall

In contrast, breech, which is of uncertain origin, refers to the rear. The better known but now little used breeches refers to the covering for that part of the anatomy. It is also used for the rear of a weapon in the term a breech loading rifle.

By extension, the meaning of breech covers something that is facing the wrong way, hence a breech birth.

3 Responses to “Breach, Breech”

  • Christine Garnt

    what is the correct for been and being, please explain?

  • Sharon

    Thanks, Nick. It’s an easy one to misuse.

  • Nick

    I’ve seen this mis-used many times, good post.

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