staff of life

noun
bread, considered as the mainstay of the human diet.

Origin:
1630–40

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

staff of life definition


A basic staple food, such as bread, rice, or potatoes: “Rice is the staff of life in eastern Asia.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

staff of life

A staple or necessary food, especially bread. For example, Rice is the staff of life for a majority of the earth's people. This expression, which uses staff in the sense of "a support," was first recorded in 1638.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
To the tribes of the desert and sage plains these seeds are the staff of life.
The crusty loaves of today's artisan bakers are the staff of life.
Potatoes are the staff of life, but fresh salads also pepper the cuisine
  landscape, especially in big cities.
The staff of life on a feast day deserves more attention.
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