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[brich-ing, bree-ching] /ˈbrɪtʃ ɪŋ, ˈbri tʃɪŋ/
the part of a harness that passes around the haunches of a horse.
a smoke pipe connecting one or more boilers with a chimney.
Navy. (formerly) a strong rope fastened to a ship's side for securing a gun or checking its recoil.
Origin of breeching
1505-15; breech + -ing1


[n. breech; v. breech, brich] /n. britʃ; v. britʃ, brɪtʃ/
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
Related forms
unbreeched, adjective
Can be confused
breach, breech (see synonym study at breach) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for breeching
Historical Examples
  • A thimble is to be turned into the other end, so that the length of the breeching may be conveniently altered.

  • He wants the whip; ought to have had it regularly from his first breeching.

  • They are most common under the saddle, but may be found under collar or breeching as well.

    Special Report on Diseases of the Horse United States Department of Agriculture
  • A crupper under his tail, or a thong as a breeching may be used.

    The Art of Travel Francis Galton
  • Tan outside of hindlegs, commonly called "breeching," a serious defect.

    A Manual of Toy Dogs Mrs. Leslie Williams
  • We had made shoulder straps, hip straps, breast straps and breeching as the correct idea for a harness.

    Death Valley in '49 William Lewis Manly
  • It has a leathern breast-strap, breeching, and lash-strap, with a broad hair girth fastened in the Mexican fashion.

    The Prairie Traveler Randolph Marcy
  • Then both cinches should be tightened, and the breeching and breast straps properly adjusted.

    Woodcraft E. H. (Elmer Harry) Kreps
  • A breeching for the wheeler, entirely useless on the level, is indispensable for journeys through a hilly country.

    Riding and Driving Edward L. Anderson
  • He spoke to no one, but examined the harness critically, and put some curt question to Carpenter about the breeching.

    Leonora Arnold Bennett
British Dictionary definitions for breeching


/ˈbrɪtʃɪŋ; ˈbriː-/
the strap of a harness that passes behind a horse's haunches
(navy) (formerly) the rope used to check the recoil run of a ship's guns or to secure them against rough weather
the parts comprising the breech of a gun


noun (briːtʃ)
the lower dorsal part of the human trunk; buttocks; rump
the lower part or bottom of something: the breech of the bridge
the lower portion of a pulley block, esp the part to which the rope or chain is secured
the part of a firearm behind the barrel or bore
(obstetrics) short for breech delivery
verb (transitive) (briːtʃ; brɪtʃ)
to fit (a gun) with a breech
(archaic) to clothe in breeches or any other clothing
See also breeches
Usage note
Breech is sometimes wrongly used as a verb where breach is meant: the barrier/agreement was breached (not breeched)
Word Origin
Old English brēc, plural of brōc leg covering; related to Old Norse brōk, Old High German bruoh
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 breeching



"back part of a gun or firearm," 1570s, from singular of breeches (q.v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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breeching in Medicine

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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