Bring home the bacon

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Bring home the bacon is an idiom with an origin story that may surprise you. We will discuss the meaning of the phrase bring home the bacon, where and how it was first used and some example sentences.

Bring home the bacon means to make a living, to earn money, to achieve financial support for those at home. Some believe that the idiom bring home the bacon came from a tradition in Great Dunmow, Essex, England. Since the 1100s, the church awarded a side of bacon, or flitch, each year to married couples who demonstrated wedded bliss. As charming as this tradition is, it does not have any connection to the term bring home the bacon. The idiom was first used in the United States. In 1906, Joe Gans fought Oliver Nelson in the world lightweight championship boxing contest. Gans’ mother sent him a telegram exhorting him to “bring home the bacon“. Gans won the contest, the first native-born African-American to win a world boxing title. He replied to his mother with a telegram of his own, stating that he “had not only the bacon, but the gravy.” The idiom bring home the bacon became popular with sports writers, and spread to general usage. It is assumed that bring home the bacon was a phrase known in the African-American community, but was not seen in print until 1908.


Wilson said Tuesday that Johnson has been “a pillar” for Dallas and excelled in Congress when it was time to “bring home the bacon.” (The Dallas Morning News)

While Gloria Pritchett, as she is known on the show, may have once made a living doing manual labor in Colombia and driving taxis after coming to the United States, the stay-at-home mom now relies on her husband Jay to bring home the bacon. (Forbes Magazine)

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