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[bred-win-er] /ˈbrɛdˌwɪn ər/
a person who earns a livelihood, especially one who also supports dependents.
Origin of breadwinner
First recorded in 1810-20; bread + winner
Related forms
breadwinning, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bread-winning
Historical Examples
  • I must give first attention to bread-winning and like things.

  • By what means were these things to be ensured to them if her skill in bread-winning should fail her?

    The Hand of Ethelberta Thomas Hardy
  • To those engaged in bread-winning employments these opportunities will be few.

    The Teacher George Herbert Palmer
  • He inherited a competence at the early age of four, and so was saved the mere struggle of bread-winning.

  • He was obliged to make of his academic studies a side issue, bread-winning taking necessarily the first place with him.

    Artists Past and Present Elisabeth Luther Cary
  • In fact I must admit that she has no bread-winning talent, and that in case of need she could not earn her own livelihood.

    The Arbiter Lady F. E. E. Bell
  • She can earn as much as a hundred dollars a month, and professes to regard this form of bread-winning as her natural destiny.

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • She can earn as much as one hundred dollars a month, and professes to regard this form of bread-winning as her natural destiny.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • On the practical side, it is by the thinking alone that man solves his bread-winning problem.

    A Man's Value to Society Newell Dwight Hillis
  • Nowadays such opportunities may be had by any man who will keep himself free from the servitude of a bread-winning profession.

British Dictionary definitions for bread-winning


a person supporting a family with his or her earnings
Derived Forms
breadwinning, noun, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bread-winning



also bread-winner, "one who supplies a living for others, especially a family," 1821, from the noun bread (probably in a literal sense) + winner, from win (v.) in its sense of "struggle for, work at." Attested slightly earlier (1818) in sense "skill or art by which one makes a living." Not too far removed from the image at the root of lord (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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