One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The part of a cannon behind the bore.
- ‘Each shell ejecting from the breech, followed by another and another.’
- ‘He came out of his roll into a kneeling position and loaded a fresh shot into the breech.’
- ‘The 155 mm main gun is equipped with a screw type breech and an electrical trigger mechanism.’
- ‘The British reloaded their weapons, filling the breech with powder and using their rods to push in the balls.’
- 1.1 The back part of a rifle or gun barrel.
- ‘Problems were overcome by innovations such as the brass cartridge case and the device which sealed the breech.’
- ‘Carpenter slid fresh shells into the breech of the gun and closed it with a well-oiled snick.’
- ‘René rose and picked up the rifle, checking the breech in the firelight to make sure it was loaded.’
- ‘This is a device located on and in the breech of a howitzer.’
- ‘All he held was the barrel and part of the breech.’
- ‘I looked at my pistol, the breech popped open, he looked at his shotgun.’
2archaic A person's buttocks.
buttocks, behind, backside, rear, rear end, seat, haunches, cheeksView synonyms
- ‘A seaman fell from a height of about seventy feet; he fell on his breech.’
- ‘The punishment of the men is to be laid on a bench and slapped on the breech with a pair of boots.’
Put (a boy) into breeches after being in petticoats since birth.
- ‘Young boys wore skirts with doublets or back-fastening bodices until they were breeched at six to eight.’
- ‘In those days it wasn't customary to breech a boy until he was about four.’
Old English brēc (plural of brōc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch broek), interpreted as a singular form. The original sense was ‘garment covering the loins and thighs’ (compare with breeches), hence ‘the buttocks’ ( breech (sense 2 of the noun), mid 16th century), later ‘the hind part’ of anything.
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