Dictionary.com

bread and butter

Save This Word!

noun
bread spread with butter.
a basic means of support; source of livelihood; sustenance: The automobile industry is the bread and butter of many Detroiters.
QUIZ
ARE YOU A TRUE BLUE CHAMPION OF THESE "BLUE" SYNONYMS?
We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of bread and butter

First recorded in 1620–30

Other definitions for bread and butter (2 of 2)

bread-and-butter
[ bred-n-buht-er ]
/ ˈbrɛd nˈbʌt ər /

adjective
providing a livelihood or basic source of income; supplying the basic needs of life: a bread-and-butter job; the agency's bread-and-butter account.
of or relating to basic needs: housing and other bread-and-butter political issues.
basic or everyday; staple; routine.
expressing thanks for hospitality: a bread-and-butter letter.

Origin of bread-and-butter

First recorded in 1720–30; adj. use of noun phrase bread and butter
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use bread and butter in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bread and butter

bread and butter
/ informal /

noun
(modifier) a means of support or subsistence; livelihoodthe inheritance was their bread and butter
bread-and-butter
  1. providing a basic means of subsistencea bread-and-butter job
  2. solid, reliable, or practicala bread-and-butter player
  3. expressing gratitude, as for hospitality (esp in the phrase bread-and-butter letter)
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with bread and butter

bread and butter

1

The essential, sustaining element, as in The quality of the schools is the bread and butter of town property values. This idiom alludes to a basic food, bread spread with butter. [c. 1700]

2

Means of livelihood, as in John's job is the family's bread and butter. [First half of 1700s]

3

Ordinary, routine, as in Don't worry about it; this is just a bread and butter assignment. [Second half of 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
FEEDBACK