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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
1865-70, Americanism


[huhb-uh l] /ˈhʌb əl/
Carl Owen ("King Carl"; "The Meal Ticket") 1903–88, U.S. baseball pitcher. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for meal-ticket
Historical Examples
  • 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
  • I've stood a lot from you, but your meal-ticket is no good after to-morrow morning—you sabe?

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

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

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

    The Girl From Keller's Harold Bindloss
  • You don't suppose the secret of a woman's meal-ticket is hidden very long, do you?

    The Blood Red Dawn Charles Caldwell Dobie
British Dictionary definitions for meal-ticket

meal ticket

(slang) a person, situation, etc, providing a source of livelihood or income
Word Origin
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
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Slang definitions & phrases for meal-ticket

meal ticket

noun phrase

  1. A superstar athlete who constitutes the drawing and earning power of a team, manager, etc; theFRANCHISE: with his meal ticket, the Brown Bomber himself (1905+ Sports)
  2. Any person, skill, part of the body, instrument, etc, that provides one's sustenance: His looks are his meal ticket (1902+)
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 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 Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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