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[bred-n-buht-er] /ˈbrɛd nˈbʌt ər/
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
1720-30; adj. use of noun phrase bread and butter

bread and butter

bread spread with butter.
a basic means of support; source of livelihood; sustenance:
The automobile industry is the bread and butter of many Detroiters.
1620-30 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for bread-and-butter
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She sat down, helped herself to a thick slice of bread-and-butter, and ate it, while burning thoughts filled her mind.

    The Rebel of the School Mrs. L. T. Meade
  • He crumpled a piece or two of bread-and-butter and spread crumbs on the cloth.

    A Great Man Arnold Bennett
  • Whenever you please; only I should like some tea and bread-and-butter presently.

    The Small House at Allington Anthony Trollope
  • Charles brought him up some tea and bread-and-butter, but said nothing.

    Mountain Moggy William H. G. Kingston
  • However objectionable Mr. Holt may find its pages, they would certainly be made worse by being greased with bread-and-butter.

  • But news was news, and in this case news was bread-and-butter.

  • A romantic boy runs after a rosy-cheeked, bread-and-butter miss with nothing.

British Dictionary definitions for bread-and-butter

bread and butter

(modifier) a means of support or subsistence; livelihood: the inheritance was their bread and butter
  1. providing a basic means of subsistence: a bread-and-butter job
  2. solid, reliable, or practical: a 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
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Slang definitions & phrases for bread-and-butter

bread and butter


: a routine, bread-andbutter type of case

noun phrase

The simple necessities of life; asi needs (mid-1735+)

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 bread-and-butter

bread and butter

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