Once more into the breach

First, learn to distinguish the derriere from the elbow.

I find this sentence in this morning’s print edition:

Watchdog first reported the breech in April, and the hole remains.

The word breech names the rump or buttocks. It’s allied etymologically to break. It’s where things break apart or split. The breech of a gun is the back end of the barrel. Breeches, alternatively britches, cover the rump. Or should.

Watchdog was reaching for breach, which is also related etymologically to break. To breach a thing is to break through it. That is why Henry V urges his comrades “once more unto the breach,” to break through an enemy’s lines or wall. The word can also be the noun for the opening in the defenses. One can also breach a contract — break it — by failing to adhere to its provisions.

There is sometimes also a confusion with broach, which means to break something open by making a hole in it. (Same root as brooch, the Middle Latin brocca, a spike or point, the thing one uses to make the hole in a container.) One broaches a keg of beer. An excellent idea. Fancy a pint?

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