Mighty Red Pen

March 26, 2012

Into the breeches: breach vs. breech

Filed under: Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

This breach of proper spelling was spotted here.

Okay, here’s the deal. When you want to say an agreement has been violated or broken, it’s a breach of contract (M-W “1. infraction or violation of a law, obligation, tie, or standard”). When you sashay about in your new pants, you’re showing off the latest fashion in breeches (M-W “1a. short pants covering the hips and thighs and fitting snugly at the lower edges at or just below the knee. 1b. Pants.”).

Breech also means ” the hind end of the body, (M-W) and if you look it up, you’ll find a trove of synonyms for buttocks that would have the average six-year-old boy screaming with laughter. You know, if that’s your thing.

Well-documented we find Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage a particularly useful website, and on this matter, not only is it useful, it’s amusingly instructive. Citing the famous line from Shakespeare’s Henry V, Brians lets us know: ““Once more unto the breach, dear friends,” means “let’s charge into the gap in the enemy’s defenses,” not “let’s reach into our pants again.”” Good way to remember, don’t you agree?

And, well, if you have a a breach in your breeches, then you have a whole other set of problems that’s beyond the scope of this blog. So good luck with that.

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