If you break a contract, it’s a breach. If you’re talking about pantaloons, guns, or feet-first babies, use breech with a double “e.”

Definition:

breach

A breach is a violation of a law, duty, or promise. If you’d contracted to mow your neighbor’s lawn and don’t do it, he can sue you for breach of contract. Or he can mow the lawn himself.

Breach traces back to the Old English verb: brecan “to break,” which is whatbreach really means––”a breaking of something.” Breach of contract is a legal way of saying you broke a promise. If your great aunt Edna is a stickler for propriety, she may be horrified when you eat your meat with the salad fork, considering it a breach of good manners.

breech

A breech is an opening in a gun where bullets are loaded. If you’re battling armed zombies, remember that the breech is in the rear. Speaking of rears, in a breech birth, a baby comes out feet, or rear, first.

Guns or rifles can either be loaded from the back part — called the breech — or from the front — called the muzzle. Most modern guns are loaded from the breech end. And if you’re single-handedly fighting a zombie army, you’d better hope your weapon is breech-loading; it’s much safer and faster to load a gun from the breech.

A breach is a break — whether it’s a breach in contract or a breach in a dam. Lawyers like it because they can help if there’s a breach of the law. Whales break free from the water when they breach, but no one wants them to breach the side of their boat because that boat would sink. Just ask the Pequod. Other examples:

“It is impossible to tell if there is a specific breach of any conflict of interest laws.” (New York Times)

“All 68 passengers and crew are safe, authorities said, and the vessel itself incurred only a small breach in its hull.” (Time)

A breech, double “e,” is an opening at back of the gun. It’s also the word for hindquarters. Thebreech is on the butt of a gun, but it’s also sometimes the buttocks of a human. Seriously.Breeches is an old word for pants, or britches, the kind George Washington rocked. You can still get breeches, though, for horseback riding. If a baby is born feet- or bottom-first, that’s abreech birth. Examples:

“A ‘magazine’ is a chamber for holding a supply of cartridges to be fed automatically to the breech of a gun, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.” (Forbes)

“Goforth said the first baby came out and then the second baby came outbreech birth, meaning the baby was delivered feet first.” (Washington Times)

Use breach is there’s a break, but save breech for guns, pants, and babies.

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