Old English bryce "a fracture, act of breaking," from brecan "to shatter, burst; injure, violate, destroy, curtail" (see break (v.)), influenced by Old French breche "breach, opening, gap," from Frankish; both from Proto-Germanic *brecho, *bræko "broken," from PIE root *bhreg- "to break."
Figurative sense of "infraction, violation, a breaking of rules, etc." was in Old English. Meaning "opening made by breaking" is from late 14c. Meaning "rupture of friendly relations" is from 1570s. Breach of contract is from at least 1660s; breach of peace "violation of public order" is from 1670s; breach of promise (usually promise of marriage) is from 1580s.
"make a breach or opening in," 1570s, from breach (n.). Related: Breached; breaching.
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