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meal ticket

noun
1.
a ticket that entitles the bearer to meals in a specified restaurant, especially when meals purchased in this manner are offered at reduced rates.
2.
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.
3.
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
1865-1870
1865-70, Americanism
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for meal-ticket

meal ticket

noun
1.
(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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Difficulty index for meal ticket

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Word Value for meal

6
8
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Quotes with meal-ticket