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Violation vs. Breach: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Aimie Carlson || Updated on November 14, 2023
"Violation" refers to the act of breaking a law, agreement, or principle, while "breach" generally means breaking a specific agreement, especially a legal contract or security.

Key Differences

A violation is typically an act of breaking or disregarding a law, rule, or ethical code. Breach, on the other hand, often refers specifically to the breaking of a formal or legal agreement, such as a contract or privacy policy.
Violations usually imply a more severe transgression, potentially involving legal or moral consequences. Breaches, while also serious, often relate more to the failure to uphold the terms of a specific agreement or contract.
The term violation is broad and can encompass various forms of misconduct, from minor infractions to serious crimes. Breach is more specific and is commonly used in legal, contractual, and cybersecurity contexts.
Violations can occur in many areas, including laws, personal rights, and social norms. Breaches often involve failure to observe contractual obligations or security measures.
In some contexts, violation and breach can be used interchangeably, but typically violation has a wider scope, and breach is more specific to agreements and security.

Comparison Chart


Act of breaking a law, agreement, or principle
Specific act of breaking a legal agreement or security


Often severe, involving legal or moral consequences
Relates to failing to uphold terms of an agreement


Broad, covering various misconducts
Specific, often used in legal and security contexts


Laws, rights, social norms
Contractual obligations, security protocols


Wider application
More specific to contracts and security

Violation and Breach Definitions


Disregarding a rule or ethical code.
His actions were seen as a violation of company policy.


Violation of a protective barrier or defense.
The flood caused a breach in the dam.


The act of breaking a law or agreement.
The company faced penalties for environmental violation.


Breaking of a legal agreement or contract.
The breach of contract led to a lawsuit.


Infringing upon someone's rights.
Unauthorized use of personal data is a violation of privacy.


A security violation or intrusion.
The company experienced a significant data breach.


Non-compliance with established regulations.
The violation of safety protocols resulted in an accident.


An act of breaking terms and conditions.
The breach of the agreement resulted in penalties.


A breach of social or moral norms.
Their behavior was considered a violation of community standards.


Failing to observe a law or duty.
There was a breach of trust between the partners.


The act or an instance of violating or the condition of being violated
A violation of the law.
The violation of a country's neutrality.


An opening, tear, or rupture.


The act or an instance of violating or the condition of being violated.


A gap or rift, especially in a solid structure such as a dike or fortification.


A violation or infraction, as of a contract, law, legal obligation, or promise.


Is "violation" used in informal settings?

It can be, usually to describe a serious disregard for rules or norms.

What does "violation" mean?

A violation is an act of breaking or disregarding a law, agreement, or code of conduct.

Can "violation" refer to legal contexts?

Yes, it's often used in legal contexts to describe an infringement of laws or regulations.

Can "violation" be used figuratively?

Yes, such as "violation of trust."

Is "violation" a noun or verb?

It's a noun; the verb form is "violate."

Can "violation" refer to personal boundaries?

Yes, it's often used in the context of personal rights and boundaries.

Is "violation" a severe term?

Generally, yes, it implies a significant breach of rules or ethics.

Are there synonyms for "breach"?

Yes, like violation, infringement, or infraction.

Are there synonyms for "violation"?

Yes, like infringement, transgression, or contravention.

What's an example of "breach" in a sentence?

"There was a breach of confidentiality in the office."

Can "breach" be a noun and a verb?

Yes, you can have a breach (noun) or breach something (verb).

Is "breach" used in everyday language?

Less frequently than "violation," but it's used in specific contexts like legal and security discussions.

What's an example of "violation" in a sentence?

"The company faced penalties for environmental regulation violations."

Can "breach" refer to physical barriers?

Yes, like "breach in a wall."

What's the difference between "breach" and "break"?

"Breach" often implies a legal or formal breaking of rules, while "break" is more general.

What does "breach" mean?

Breach refers to breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.

How is "violation" different from "crime"?

A crime is a legal offense punishable by law, while a violation might not always be a criminal act.

Is "breach" used in legal contexts?

Yes, particularly in contexts like contract law or data security.

Is "breach" used in specific industries?

It's commonly used in cybersecurity, law, and business.

How severe is a "breach"?

It varies, but it often implies a significant failure to uphold an agreement or barrier.
About Author
Written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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