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[bred] /brɛd/
a kind of food made of flour or meal that has been mixed with milk or water, made into a dough or batter, with or without yeast or other leavening agent, and baked.
food or sustenance; livelihood:
to earn one's bread.
Slang. money.
Ecclesiastical. the wafer or bread used in a Eucharistic service.
verb (used with object)
Cookery. to cover with breadcrumbs or meal.
break bread,
  1. to eat a meal, especially in companionable association with others.
  2. to distribute or participate in Communion.
cast one's bread upon the waters, to act generously or charitably with no thought of personal gain.
know which side one's bread is buttered on, to be aware of those things that are to one's own advantage.
take the bread out of someone's mouth, to deprive someone of livelihood.
Origin of bread
before 950; 1950-55 for def 3; Middle English breed, Old English brēad fragment, morsel, bread; cognate with German Brot
Related forms
breadless, adjective
breadlessness, noun
unbreaded, adjective
Can be confused
bread, bred. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for break bread
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the disciples came together on the first day of the week, and did break bread, and Paul preached unto them.

  • "Brother, I will go in and break bread and eat salt with thee," he said.

    Cleek, the Master Detective Thomas W. Hanshew
  • You say: "Take a chair; are you thirsty, are you hungry, will you not break bread with me?"

  • Bless you, yes—come down at once and break bread with me—I'll wait.

    Dreamy Hollow Sumner Charles Britton
  • What fingers of the hand to eat with, what hand to break bread with—and so on and so forth.

    Black Man's Burden Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • It would be fitting,” he continued, “that we should break bread together.

  • A testimony is thus given that all who break bread are church members.

    George Muller of Bristol Arthur T. Pierson
  • Then he invited me to go to his home and break bread with him.

    The Abolitionists John F. Hume
  • Or don't you want to break bread with me, under the circumstances?

    The Ego Machine Henry Kuttner
British Dictionary definitions for break bread


a food made from a dough of flour or meal mixed with water or milk, usually raised with yeast or baking powder and then baked
necessary food; nourishment: give us our daily bread
a slang word for money
(Christianity) a small loaf, piece of bread, or wafer of unleavened bread used in the Eucharist
bread and circuses, something offered as a means of distracting attention from a problem or grievance
break bread, See break (sense 46)
cast one's bread upon the waters, to do good without expectation of advantage or return
to know which side one's bread is buttered, to know what to do in order to keep one's advantages
take the bread out of someone's mouth, to deprive someone of a livelihood
(transitive) to cover with breadcrumbs before cooking: breaded veal
Word Origin
Old English brēad; related to Old Norse braud, Old Frisian brād, Old High German brōt
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 break bread



Old English bread "bit, crumb, morsel; bread," cognate with Old Norse brauð, Danish brød, Old Frisian brad, Middle Dutch brot, Dutch brood, German Brot. According to one theory [Watkins, etc.] from Proto-Germanic *brautham, which would be from the root of brew (v.) and refer to the leavening.

But OED argues at some length for the basic sense being not "cooked food" but "piece of food," and the Old English word deriving from a Proto-Germanic *braudsmon- "fragments, bits" (cf. Old High German brosma "crumb," Old English breotan "to break in pieces") and being related to the root of break (v.). It cites Slovenian kruh "bread," literally "a piece."

Either way, by c.1200 it had replaced the usual Old English word for "bread," which was hlaf (see loaf (n.)). Slang meaning "money" dates from 1940s, but cf. breadwinner. Bread-and-butter in the figurative sense of "basic needs" is from 1732. Bread and circuses (1914) is from Latin, in reference to food and entertainment provided by governments to keep the populace happy. "Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses" [Juvenal, Sat. x.80].


"to dress with bread crumbs," 1727, from bread (n.). Related: Breaded; breading.



"to dress with bread crumbs," 1727, from bread (n.). Related: Breaded; breading.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for break bread



Money; dough

Related Terms

the best thing since sliced bread, small potatoes

[1940s+, but esp cool talk & 1960s+ counterculture; probably fr dough; perhaps related to earlier gingerbread, ''money'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with break bread

break bread

Have a meal, eat. For example, It's hard to remain enemies when you've broken bread together. This term occurs in numerous places in the New Testament, where it sometimes means to share bread and other times to distribute food to others. In later usage it came to refer to the sacramental bread of Communion in Christian services. The latter survives in the spiritual hymn, “Let Us Break Bread Together.” [ 1300s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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