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Bread and butter

Bread and butter is a simple phrase which has a few different meanings and uses. We will look at the meaning of the term bread and butter, how it is used, its origins and some examples of its use in sentences.

Bread and butter may be refer to the thing that one depends on for one’s income or livelihood, the item or process that provides one’s sustenance and lifestyle. Bread and butter is sometimes used to mean something ordinary, something that is everyday. When the term bread and butter was first used in the 1700s, it referred to one’s basic needs. It wasn’t until the 1800s that the phrase came to means one’s income or livelihood. When used as an adjective before a noun, the term is hyphenated as in bread-and-butter. Additionally, in some places the term bread and butter is used as a superstitious incantation, usually used in fun, when two people who are walking together must separate around an obstacle while continuing to walk. Uttering this phrase is reputed to ward off any trouble that might come between the two people in the future. This ritual was first documented in the 1939 Federal Writers Project’s Guide to Kansas as a practice that was widespread among children, which means it is probably much older than 1939.


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Examples

Why Dark Horse was really able to survive and do all of these great experiments was having those licensed books—having Star Wars, having Aliens, having Predator—and that was kind of their bread and butter for a long time. (Williamette Week)

While songwriting is where she sees her bread-and-butter income stemming from in the future, the six-member band of which Frank and her boyfriend are founding members is gaining some momentum locally, too. (UMSL Daily)

He said “bread and butter” crimes such as robberies, break-ins and car thefts had all declined dramatically on the back of Newman Government laws enabling police to disrupt gangs. (The Courier Mail)

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