bread-and-but·​ter | \ ˈbred-ən(d)-ˈbə-tər How to pronounce bread-and-butter (audio) \

Definition of bread-and-butter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : being as basic as the earning of one's livelihood bread-and-butter issues
b(1) : reliable our bread-and-butter repertoire
(2) : dependable as a source of income a company's bread-and-butter products
2 : sent or given as thanks for hospitality a bread-and-butter letter

bread and butter


Definition of bread and butter (Entry 2 of 2)

: a means of sustenance or livelihood

Examples of bread-and-butter in a Sentence


Casual clothing has always been the company's bread and butter.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For several years, consumer demand for the bread and butter of the industry—soda and beer—had been declining due to health concerns and dragged on the Ball’s shares. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "How This 139-Year-Old Container Company Became One of the Hottest Stocks on the S&P 500," 12 Aug. 2019 This wasn't a highly specialized procedure, but the bread and butter of orthopedic surgeons everywhere: fixing a bone fracture. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "Blow Out Your Knee? Hope Your Surgeon's Got a VR Headset," 9 Aug. 2019 As always, Concert of Colors' bread and butter is its lively, genre-spanning music lineup, which has increasingly featured homegrown performers amid styles that range from Arab electro music to African folk. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Concert of Colors: What you need to know about the revamped 2019 festival," 10 July 2019 Targeted ads tailored to individuals are Facebook's bread and butter — accounting for the vast majority of its more than $50 billion in annual revenues last year. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, "Facebook details efforts to prepare for 2020 elections, Census disinformation," 1 July 2019 Davis describes Horsetooth as having outstanding smallmouth fishing, offering a break from the bread and butter of trout fishing in colder waters. Patricia Cameron, The Know, "10 of the best spots to fish in Colorado," 22 June 2019 While meat may be their bread and butter, farm life isn’t cheap. Liz Tracy, Vox, "How are small farms surviving? Airbnb.," 11 July 2019 The little essays—on black bread and butter eaten, a fountain pen stolen, Austria revisited—are painted precisely and charmingly. Madeleine Schwartz, Harper's magazine, "Warm, Weird, Effervescent," 10 June 2019 From the bread and butter to the last bite of dessert, each dish at The Wauwinet's famous restaurant is mind-blowing in both presentation and flavor. Jaimie Potters, Marie Claire, "Where to Stay, Eat, and Explore in Nantucket, Massachusetts," 10 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bread-and-butter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bread-and-butter


circa 1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1732, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of bread-and-butter was in 1732

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English Language Learners Definition of bread-and-butter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: basic and important
: dependable as a source of income or success

bread and butter


English Language Learners Definition of bread and butter (Entry 2 of 2)

: a dependable source of income or success

Comments on bread-and-butter

What made you want to look up bread-and-butter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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