‘I hardly minded the pain,’ he says. ‘We have all had, saving you sir, as much if not worse from our fathers.’

‘True,’ he says. ‘My father beat me as if I were a sheet of metal.’

‘It was that he laid my flesh bare. And the women looking on. Dame Alice. The young girls. I thought one of them might speak up for me, but when they saw me unbreached, I only disgusted them. It made them laugh. While the fellow was whipping me, they were laughing.’

— Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

What is the meaning of "unbreached"? In the dictionary it says "not breached; intact", but I can't work it out in the sentence.

  • 5
    Could it by chance be unbreeched, meaning "without my breeches"? Oct 3, 2015 at 9:17
  • I think it really means "not breached; intact" as in your dictionary. He was being whipped, but he was unyielding. He wouldn't submit to the punishment. (That is if I'm not mistaken. It's just my guess based on a short excerpt, anyway.) Oct 3, 2015 at 9:32
  • @DamkerngT. No, given the rest of the context, CopperKettle is definitely right.
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 3, 2015 at 10:38

1 Answer 1


This text is from what I'm guessing is a rather old novel. The speech in it ranges from quaint to archaic.

Long ago, what we call "pants" today where "breeches".

The narrator is speaking of a beating he got from his father - one where his father apparently first pulled down the narrator's pants.

Note also that the quoted spelling of breaches/breeches may have been the accepted one at the time. My grandfather's dictionary had entries with words spelled differently than we spell them today.

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