noun (used with a plural verb)
Also called knee breeches. knee-length trousers, often having ornamental buckles or elaborate decoration at or near the bottoms, commonly worn by men and boys in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries.
Informal. trousers.
too big for one's breeches, asserting oneself beyond one's authority or ability.

1125–75; Middle English, plural of breech

breeches, britches. Unabridged


[n. breech; v. breech, brich]
the lower, rear part of the trunk of the body; buttocks.
the hinder or lower part of anything.
Ordnance. the rear part of the bore of a gun, especially the opening and associated mechanism that permits insertion of a projectile.
Machinery. the end of a block or pulley farthest from the supporting hook or eye.
Nautical. the outside angle of a knee in the frame of a ship.
verb (used with object)
Ordnance. to fit or furnish (a gun) with a breech.
to clothe with breeches.

before 1000; Middle English breeche, Old English brēc, plural of brōc; cognate with Old Norse brōk, Old High German bruoh

unbreeched, adjective

breach, breech (see synonym study at breach). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
1.  the lower dorsal part of the human trunk; buttocks; rump
2.  the lower part or bottom of something: the breech of the bridge
3.  the lower portion of a pulley block, esp the part to which the rope or chain is secured
4.  the part of a firearm behind the barrel or bore
5.  obstetrics short for breech delivery
6.  to fit (a gun) with a breech
7.  archaic to clothe in breeches or any other clothing
usage  Breech is sometimes wrongly used as a verb where breach is meant: the barrier/agreement was breached (not breeched)

breeches (ˈbrɪtʃɪz, ˈbriː-)
pl n
1.  trousers extending to the knee or just below, worn for riding, mountaineering, etc
2.  informal, dialect or any trousers
3.  too big for one's breeches conceited; unduly self-confident

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1200, a double plural, from O.E. brec "breeches," which already was pl. of broc "garment for the legs and trunk," from P.Gmc. *brokiz (cf. O.N. brok, Du. broek, Dan. brog, O.H.G. bruoh, Ger. Bruch, obsolete since 18c. except in Swiss dialect), perhaps from PIE base *bhreg- (see
break). The P.Gmc. word is a parallel form to Celt. *bracca, source (via Gaulish) of L. braca (cf. Fr. braies), and some propose that the Gmc. word group is borrowed from Gallo-Latin, others that the Celtic was from Germanic. Expanded sense of "part of the body covered by breeches, posterior" led to senses in childbirthing (1670s) and gunnery ("the part of a firearm behind the bore," 1570s). As the popular word for "trousers" in English, displaced in U.S. c.1840 by pants. The Breeches Bible (Geneva Bible of 1560) so called on account of rendition of Gen. iii.7 (already in Wyclif) "They sewed figge leaues together, and made themselues breeches."

"back part of a gun or firearm," 1570s, from sing. of breeches (q.v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

breech (brēch)
The lower rear portion of the human trunk; the buttocks.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Bible Dictionary

Breeches definition

(Ex. 28:42), rather linen drawers, reaching from the waist to a little above the knee, worn by the priests (Ezek. 44:17, 18).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
Sad to say, that manner-born rule is now more honored in the breeches than the
Shelby had a hole in the seat of its civic breeches for a generation.
Breeches are traditional in color, usually white, tan, or beige.
Breeches is a singular word which uses a plural form to reflect it has two legs.
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