Easily Confused Words: Breech vs. Breach

Breech and breach are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Breech (pronounced “breach”) is a noun. It means the butt of a person or an objects, like firearms. The plural, breeches, means pants or other clothing worn over the lower half of the body.

Breach (pronounced “breach”) has multiple meanings.

It means a literal breakage in a wall, a fortification, or a surface. Figuratively, it can mean a breakdown in a relationship or agreement.

As a verb, it means to break a surface, a wall, a fortification, or other object. When whales surface to breathe, leap, or chase fish, they are breaching.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Brock was a divorce attorney. Right before he and his team met with a new client, he often paraphrased Shakespeare’s Henry V: “Once more into the breach, my friends!” 

Over the years, he had seen both husbands and wives go into their case, expecting to get everything he or she wanted, all on their terms. In the end, all his client was guaranteed to feel exhausted, hurt, and sometimes lucky to escape with a couple pairs of breeches and the family goldfish.


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