‘Breech’ vs. ‘Breach’: What’s the Difference?

By Kelsey Weeks, updated on August 1, 2023

‘Breech’ and ‘breach’ sound the same, but are they different? Why are they spelled differently? The term ‘britches’ actually comes from the word ‘breech’ and is not a formal word, so learning the difference between ‘breach’ and’ breech’ can help in more than one way.

To have a quick overview:

  • ‘Breech’ is exclusively a noun usually referring to something to do with the rear.
  • ‘Breach’ can be a noun or verb typically relating to a gap or a break.

‘Breech’ and ‘breach’ can seem the same when speaking, but there are clear differences in the words. To learn the details of the differences and how to use the words, continue to read the rest of the article.

What is the Difference Between ‘Breech’ and ‘Breach?’

Other than one vowel difference, the words can look the same, but typically when people are using the word ‘breech,’ they are referring to ‘breach.’ This is due to the fact that ‘breech’ has a very particular meaning, and a lot of it is used as an antiquated term.

  • ‘Breech’ is a noun that usually refers to the rear. ‘Breeches’ is a common way the word is used, which means pants.
    • This has changed in some parts of America to be ‘britches’ due to accents and losing the British accent.
    • Additionally, the word is used when speaking about weapon systems, but that is why it is not the more common word of the two.
  • ‘Breach’ can be used as a noun or as a verb. In both forms, it can be thought of as something breaking or broken or a gap or to make a gap.
    • The word comes from the Middle English word ‘breche,’ which is the act of breaking, opening in a wall, or a violation.

Definition of ‘Breech': What Does it Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘breech’ is a noun.

As a noun, it means:

  • Breeches
    • Short pants cover the hips and thighs and fit snugly at the lower edges or just below the knee.
    • Pants.
  • The hind end of the body or buttocks.
    • A fetus is presented with the buttocks first.
  • The part of a firearm at the rear of a barrel.

Synonyms of ‘Breech’

  • Seat
  • Cheeks
  • Tail
  • Bum
  • Rump
  • Posterior
  • Bottom
  • Rear
  • Butt
  • Pants
  • Slacks
  • Trousers
  • Jeans
  • Pantaloons
  • Britches
  • Denim
  • Rear of tube

Antonyms of ‘Breech’

  • Closing
  • Overgarment
  • Front

Definition of ‘Breach': What Does it Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘breach’ can be a noun or verb.

As a noun, it means:

  • Infraction or violation of a law, obligation, tie, or standard.
  • A broken, ruptured, or torn condition or area
    • A gap (as in a wall) made by battering.
  • A break in accustomed friendly relations
    • A temporary gap in continuity or hiatus
  • A leap, especially of a whale out of water.

As a verb, it means:

  • To make a gap in by battering, to make a breach.
  • Break, violate.
  • To leap out of the water.

Synonyms of ‘Breach’

  • Violation
  • Infringement
  • Offense
  • Contravention
  • Trespass
  • Infraction
  • Crime
  • Sin
  • Gap
  • Hole
  • Crevice
  • Violate
  • Break

Antonyms of ‘Breach’

  • Follow
  • Conform to
  • Comply with
  • Obey
  • Observe
  • Serve
  • Mind
  • Innocence
  • Virtue
  • Morality
  • Blamelessness
  • Observance

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Breech’ and ‘Breach’

Pronunciation of English words can sometimes be difficult due to the different spellings and rules. To pronounce ‘breach’ and ‘breech,’ the words are said identically. This makes the word a homophone because it sounds the same but has a different meaning.

  • The phonetic spelling of 'anyplace and ‘any place’ is:


When to use ‘Breech’ vs. ‘Breach’

Here are examples of when to use ‘breech’ and ‘breach.’

  • Use ‘breech’ when talking about short pants.

In this example, you could inform someone:

‘Breeches’ were common clothing items during colonial times.

  • Use ‘breech’ when discussing firearm parts.

For example, one can say:

The ‘breech’ of the barrel needs to be looked at because something is causing rounds not to fire as smoothly.

  • You can use ‘breach’ when sharing why you are upset.

As an example, someone may tell someone they are close to:

Marley and I were best friends, but then they ‘breached’ my trust by letting others know the intimate details I shared with them. 

  • You can also use ‘breach’ to tell someone what you plan on doing.

You may tell someone:

I am going to ‘breach’ the contract, which will result in its termination, but this choice is important to me.

Sample Sentences Using 'Breech'

Review these sample sentences to learn to use ‘breech’ when speaking and writing. Remember that this version is only used as a noun.

  • The store is trying to use different labels to appear different from the local stores and has started carrying ‘breeches’ in different styles and colors. This will allow a variety of pants for local shoppers.
  • When cleaning a weapon after firing it at a range, it is important to clean the whole barrel, especially the ‘breech.’ This will prevent firing mishaps like a weapon firing poorly or a jam.
  • The doctors are worried that the patient may have a ‘breech’ birth because the baby is not turned the right way.
  • The baby was born with a large blue birthmark across the ‘breech.’ The parent was worried that this was a large bruise or injury, but the doctors informed the parent that sometimes this birthmark occurs.

Sample Sentences Using 'Breach'

Review these sample sentences to learn how to use ‘breach’ when writing or talking about a gap or break.

  • The army is attempting to ‘breach’ the castle walls using everything they have. Trebuchets are the typical siege weapon, but that is not all they brought in hopes of retrieving their friends from captivity.
  • The farmers are repairing a ‘breach’ by the bull in the fence so the cattle do not escape. This is why they ride to check the perimeter every day.
  • Unfortunately, you have ‘breached’ the law, and this requires consequences. I have reported you to the police, and they will be here soon for them to deal with the situation.
  • The Beluga Whale ‘breached’ the water putting on a show for the people watching on the port of the fishing ship in the area.

Review of ‘Breech’ vs. ‘Breach’

Closing on ‘breech’ or ‘breach’:

  • The spelling does make a difference in meaning.
  • ‘Breech’ is only used as a noun, usually referring to an end or rear.
  • ‘Breach’ is a noun or verb about something breaking or a gap.

Overall, homophones can have very different meanings, as seen between these two words. Learning the difference will allow you to speak clearly with your desired audience, whether that be someone that you know closely or in a formal setting. You can remain confident of your use of ‘breech’ and ‘breach.’

All posts on our website explain how to use tricky words correctly. Check back frequently to reduce the errors in your writing. You can find additional resources on English words in the confusing words section.

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Written By:
Kelsey Weeks
Kelsey Weeks is currently a school counselor at a high school and a previous English teacher. She loves helping others with literacy, learning more, and exploring nature. She has an undergrad in English with an emphasis on secondary education and an M.A. in Applied Psychology from NYU.

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