a person who earns a livelihood, especially one who also supports dependents.

Origin of breadwinner

First recorded in 1810–20; bread + winner
Related formsbread·win·ning, noun, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for breadwinning

Contemporary Examples of breadwinning

Historical Examples of breadwinning

  • In the intervals of his labours at breadwinning Wagner worked at his "Rienzi."

  • People are stupefied and deadened by their absorption in breadwinning.


    Maksim Gorky

  • It was not just an ordinary change from one breadwinning place to another.


    Charles Rumford Walker

  • My ill-health, my isolation, baulked ambitions, and daily breadwinning all conspire to bring me down.

    The Journal of a Disappointed Man

    Wilhelm Nero Pilate Barbellion

  • He had been along all the pavements of Grub Street, perhaps the most exciting place of breadwinning known to the civilized man.


    Christopher Morley

British Dictionary definitions for breadwinning



a person supporting a family with his or her earnings
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 breadwinning



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