know which side bread is buttered on


a kind of food made of flour or meal that has been mixed with milk or water, made into a dough or batter, with or without yeast or other leavening agent, and baked.
food or sustenance; livelihood: to earn one's bread.
Slang. money.
Ecclesiastical. the wafer or bread used in a Eucharistic service.
verb (used with object)
Cookery. to cover with breadcrumbs or meal.
break bread,
to eat a meal, especially in companionable association with others.
to distribute or participate in Communion.
cast one's bread upon the waters, to act generously or charitably with no thought of personal gain.
know which side one's bread is buttered on, to be aware of those things that are to one's own advantage.
take the bread out of someone's mouth, to deprive someone of livelihood.

before 950; 1950–55 for def 3; Middle English breed, Old English brēad fragment, morsel, bread; cognate with German Brot

breadless, adjective
breadlessness, noun
unbreaded, adjective

bread, bred. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
bread (brɛd)
1.  a food made from a dough of flour or meal mixed with water or milk, usually raised with yeast or baking powder and then baked
2.  necessary food; nourishment: give us our daily bread
3.  a slang word for money
4.  Christianity a small loaf, piece of bread, or wafer of unleavened bread used in the Eucharist
5.  bread and circuses something offered as a means of distracting attention from a problem or grievance
6.  break bread See break
7.  cast one's bread upon the waters to do good without expectation of advantage or return
8.  to know which side one's bread is buttered to know what to do in order to keep one's advantages
9.  take the bread out of someone's mouth to deprive someone of a livelihood
10.  (tr) to cover with breadcrumbs before cooking: breaded veal
[Old English brēad; related to Old Norse braud, Old Frisian brād, Old High German brōt]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. bread "bit, crumb, morsel; bread," cognate with O.N. brauð, Dan. brød, O.Fris. brad, M.Du. brot, Du. brood, Ger. Brot). According to one theory [Watkins, etc.] from from P.Gmc. *brautham, which would be from the root of brew and refer to the leavening. But
OED argues at length for the basic sense being not "cooked food" but "piece of food," and the O.E. word deriving from a P.Gmc. *braudsmon- "fragments, bits" (cf. O.H.G. brosma "crumb," O.E. breotan "to break in pieces") and being related to the root of break. It cites Slovenian kruh "bread," lit. "a piece." Either way, by c.1200 it had replaced the usual O.E. word for "bread," which was hlaf (see loaf). Slang meaning "money" dates from 1940s, but cf. breadwinner. Bread-and-butter in the figurative sense of "basic needs" is from 1732. Bread and circuses (1914) is from L., in ref. to food and entertainment provided by governments to keep the populace happy. "Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses" [Juvenal, Sat. x.80].

"to dress with bread crumbs," 1727, from bread (n.). Related: Breaded; breading.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Bread definition

among the Jews was generally made of wheat (Ex. 29:2; Judg. 6:19), though also sometimes of other grains (Gen. 14:18; Judg. 7:13). Parched grain was sometimes used for food without any other preparation (Ruth 2:14). Bread was prepared by kneading in wooden bowls or "kneading troughs" (Gen. 18:6; Ex. 12:34; Jer. 7:18). The dough was mixed with leaven and made into thin cakes, round or oval, and then baked. The bread eaten at the Passover was always unleavened (Ex. 12:15-20; Deut. 16:3). In the towns there were public ovens, which were much made use of for baking bread; there were also bakers by trade (Hos. 7:4; Jer. 37:21). Their ovens were not unlike those of modern times. But sometimes the bread was baked by being placed on the ground that had been heated by a fire, and by covering it with the embers (1 Kings 19:6). This was probably the mode in which Sarah prepared bread on the occasion referred to in Gen. 18:6. In Lev. 2 there is an account of the different kinds of bread and cakes used by the Jews. (See BAKE.) The shew-bread (q.v.) consisted of twelve loaves of unleavened bread prepared and presented hot on the golden table every Sabbath. They were square or oblong, and represented the twelve tribes of Israel. The old loaves were removed every Sabbath, and were to be eaten only by the priests in the court of the sanctuary (Ex. 25:30; Lev. 24:8; 1 Sam. 21:1-6; Matt. 12:4). The word bread is used figuratively in such expressions as "bread of sorrows" (Ps. 127:2), "bread of tears" (80:5), i.e., sorrow and tears are like one's daily bread, they form so great a part in life. The bread of "wickedness" (Prov. 4:17) and "of deceit" (20:17) denote in like manner that wickedness and deceit are a part of the daily life.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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