meal ticket


a ticket that entitles the bearer to meals in a specified restaurant, especially when meals purchased in this manner are offered at reduced rates.
Informal. someone upon whom one is dependent for one's income or livelihood: selfish children who look upon their father only as a meal ticket.
Informal. something, as an object or ability possessed by a person, that is necessary to that person's livelihood: The radio announcer's voice was his meal ticket.

Origin of meal ticket

An Americanism dating back to 1865–70


[huhb-uh l]


Carl OwenKing CarlThe Meal Ticket, 1903–88, U.S. baseball pitcher. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for meal ticket

patron, supporter, grubstaker

Examples from the Web for meal ticket

Historical Examples of meal ticket

  • Well, anyhow, he's here so much we ought to be chargin' him for his meal-ticket.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • I've stood a lot from you, but your meal-ticket is no good after to-morrow morning—you sabe?

    Money Magic

    Hamlin Garland

  • When she offered her meal-ticket at the desk the clerk shook his head.

    The Girl From Keller's

    Harold Bindloss

  • Part of the time Comte lived under Saint-Simon's roof, and did translating and copying in partial payment for his meal-ticket.

  • You've always been ace-high with me, and there never will come the day when you can't eat on my meal-ticket.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

British Dictionary definitions for meal ticket

meal ticket


slang a person, situation, etc, providing a source of livelihood or income

Word Origin for meal ticket

from original US sense of ticket entitling holder to a meal
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

Idioms and Phrases with meal ticket

meal ticket

A person or thing depended on as a source of income, as in Magic Johnson was a real meal ticket for his team, or Her interpersonal skills will be her meal ticket when she goes into sales. This metaphoric expression alludes to the earlier practice of handing out tickets that entitle their holder to a meal. [Early 1900s]

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