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breech

Syllabification: breech
Pronunciation: /brēCH
 
/

Definition of breech in English:

noun

1The part of a cannon behind the bore.
Example sentences
  • The British reloaded their weapons, filling the breech with powder and using their rods to push in the balls.
  • Each shell ejecting from the breech, followed by another and another.
  • He came out of his roll into a kneeling position and loaded a fresh shot into the breech.
1.1The back part of a rifle or gun barrel.
Example sentences
  • René rose and picked up the rifle, checking the breech in the firelight to make sure it was loaded.
  • All he held was the barrel and part of the breech.
  • Problems were overcome by innovations such as the brass cartridge case and the device which sealed the breech.
2 archaic A person’s buttocks.
Example sentences
  • The punishment of the men is to be laid on a bench and slapped on the breech with a pair of boots.
  • A seaman fell from a height of about seventy feet; he fell on his breech.

verb

[with object] archaic Back to top  
Put (a boy) into breeches after being in petticoats since birth.
Example sentences
  • In those days it wasn't customary to breech a boy until he was about four.
  • Young boys wore skirts with doublets or back-fastening bodices until they were breeched at six to eight.

Origin

Old English brēc (plural of brōc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch broek), interpreted as a singular form. The original sense was 'garment covering the loins and thighs' (compare with breeches), hence 'the buttocks' (sense 2 of the noun, mid 16th century), later 'the hind part' of anything (late 16th century).

Definition of breech in:

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