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[brest-wurk] /ˈbrɛstˌwɜrk/
noun, Fortification.
a defensive work, usually breast high.
Origin of breastwork
1635-45; breast + work Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for breastwork
Historical Examples
  • The impression that Jackson's breastwork line was constructed of bales of cotton is a mistake.

    The Battle of New Orleans Zachary F. Smith
  • The breastwork was about five feet high, and was absolutely unclimbable.

  • I found the reserves had thrown up a breastwork from the Ohio 348 to the Kanawha, thus inclosing the camp on the Point.

    A Virginia Scout Hugh Pendexter
  • The builders of that breastwork were before my eyes, and apparently just resting from their labours.

    The Desert Home Mayne Reid
  • The Germans fiercely bombarded this breastwork, and blew it in.

  • None of them, however, showed any signs of returning to the breastwork.

    The Desert Home Mayne Reid
  • To form a sort of breastwork, trees had been felled, and this was his only cover against an attack.

  • He drew in his rein, and stopped his steed at one end of the breastwork.

  • The breastwork was then completed, a sentry was placed at each side of the house, and the rest lay down.

  • Then we pushed into the mass of boughs and drove the French back into their breastwork.

    Ben Comee M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
British Dictionary definitions for breastwork


(fortifications) a temporary defensive work, usually breast-high Also called parapet
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 breastwork

"fieldwork thrown up breast-high for defense," 1640s, from breast (n.) + work (n.) in "fortification" sense. Old English had breostweall in same sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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