• synonyms


  1. a person who earns a livelihood, especially one who also supports dependents.
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Origin of breadwinner

First recorded in 1810–20; bread + winner
Related formsbread·win·ning, noun, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bread-winning

Historical Examples

  • I must give first attention to bread-winning and like things.

    Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

    Martin Luther

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

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for bread-winning


  1. a person supporting a family with his or her earnings
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Derived Formsbreadwinning, 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

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.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper