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[uh-brest] /əˈbrɛst/
adverb, adjective
side by side; beside each other in a line:
They walked two abreast down the street.
equal to or alongside in progress, attainment, or awareness (usually followed by of or with):
to keep abreast of scientific developments; keeping abreast with the times.
Origin of abreast
1590-1600; a-1 + breast Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for abreast
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They were all dressed in blue blouses, and were marching four abreast just as the cavalry do.

  • By degrees they let the boat drop back till her bow was abreast of the ladder.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • After this he did not go ahead of Breault, but kept behind him or abreast of him, within sound of the dipping pole.

    The Country Beyond James Oliver Curwood
  • They were then just abreast of the park of Montivilliers, and there they witnessed a most horrible sight.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • The 27th we were a little past Calicut, abreast of Paniany, our lat.

British Dictionary definitions for abreast


adjective (postpositive)
alongside each other and facing in the same direction
foll by of or with. up to date (with); fully conversant (with)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for abreast

mid-15c., on brest, from a- (1) + breast (n.); the notion is of "with breasts in line." To keep abreast in figurative sense of "stay up-to-date" is from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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