Breach or breech?


Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; is a famous quote from Shakespeare’s play Henry V.

So, when should we use ‘breach’ or ‘breech’?

According to the Macquarie dictionary, the noun ‘breach’ means
1) the act or result of breaking; a break or rupture
2) a gap made in a wall, dike, fortification; rift; fissure
3) an infraction or violation of the law, trust, faith, promise
4) a severance of friendly relations
5) the springing of a whale from the water
6) (obsolete) a wound.

The verb ‘breach’ means to make a breach or opening in something.

In contrast, the noun ‘breech’ means
1) the lower part of the trunk of the body; behind; the posterior or buttocks
2) the rear or lower part of anything
3) the mass of metal behind the bore of a cannon, or the part of a small arm behind the barrel
4) the lowest part of a pulley.

Whereas the verb ‘breech’ means
1) to fit or furnish a gun with a breech
2) to clothe with breeches
3) (in the archaic sense) to flog on the buttocks.

So, using breech in the sense that it refers to rear or buttocks, we get a ‘breech birth’, meaning that the baby is born rear end or buttocks first.

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