1. Anatomy, Zoology. (in bipeds) the outer, front part of the thorax, or the front part of the body from the neck to the abdomen; chest.
  2. Zoology. the corresponding part in quadrupeds.
  3. either of the pair of mammae occurring on the chest in humans and having a discrete areola around the nipple, especially the mammae of the female after puberty, which are enlarged and softened by hormonally influenced mammary-gland development and fat deposition and which secrete milk after the birth of a child: the breasts of males normally remain rudimentary.
  4. the part of a garment that covers the chest.
  5. the bosom conceived of as the center of emotion: What anger lay in his breast when he made that speech?
  6. a projection from a wall, as part of a chimney.
  7. any surface or part resembling or likened to the human breast.
  8. Mining. the face or heading at which the work is going on.
  9. Metallurgy.
    1. the front of an open-hearth furnace.
    2. the clay surrounding the taphole of a cupola.
  10. Nautical.
    1. breast line.
    2. a rounded bow.

verb (used with object)

  1. to meet or oppose boldly; confront: As a controversial public figure he has breasted much hostile criticism.
  2. to contend with or advance against: The ship breasted the turbulent seas.
  3. to climb or climb over (a mountain, obstacle, etc.).
  4. to overcome, succeed against.
  5. to come alongside or abreast of.

Verb Phrases

  1. breast in, Nautical. to bind (an object, as a boatswain’s chair) securely under a projection, as the flare of a bow.
  2. breast off, Nautical.
    1. to thrust (a vessel) sideways from a wharf.
    2. to keep (a vessel) away from a wharf by means of timbers.
  1. beat one’s breast, to display one’s grief, remorse, etc., in a loud and demonstrative manner.
  2. make a clean breast of, to confess everything (of which one is guilty): You’ll feel better if you make a clean breast of it.


  1. the front part of the body from the neck to the abdomen; chest
  2. either of the two soft fleshy milk-secreting glands on the chest in sexually mature human femalesadjective mammary
  3. a similar organ in certain other mammals
  4. anything that resembles a breast in shape or positionthe breast of the hill
  5. a source of nourishmentthe city took the victims to its breast
  6. the source of human emotions
  7. the part of a garment that covers the breast
  8. a projection from the side of a wall, esp that formed by a chimney
  9. mining the face being worked at the end of a tunnel
  10. beat one’s breast to display guilt and remorse publicly or ostentatiously
  11. make a clean breast of to make a confession of

verb (tr)

  1. to confront boldly; facebreast the storm
  2. to oppose with the breast or meet at breast levelbreasting the waves
  3. to come alongside ofbreast the ship
  4. to reach the summit ofbreasting the mountain top

Old English breost “breast, bosom; mind, thought, disposition,” from Proto-Germanic *breustam “breast” (cf. Old Saxon briost, Old Frisian briast, Old Norse brjost, Dutch borst, German brust, Gothic brusts), perhaps literally “swelling” and from PIE root *bhreus- “to swell, sprout” (cf. Middle Irish bruasach “having a broad, strong chest,” Old Irish bruinne “breast”). The spelling conforms to the Scottish and northern England dialectal pronunciation. Figurative sense of “seat of the emotions” was in Old English.


  1. Either of two milk-secreting, glandular organs on the chest of a woman; mammary gland; mamma.
  2. A corresponding rudimentary gland in the male.
  3. The superior ventral surface of the human body, extending from the neck to the abdomen.

see keep abreast of; make a clean breast of.

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