bread-and-but·ter | \ ˈbred-ən(d)-ˈbə-tər \

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

Offerings include simple fare: olives, bread and butter, anchovies, cheeses, tins of smoked trout. Lauren Daley,, "How to do summer in Boston like a local," 15 June 2018 The Right Genes For generations, horse racing’s bread and butter has come down to bloodlines. Lacy Schley, Discover Magazine, "Digging Into Derby Day," 8 May 2018 Last ditch challenges and fearless, goal-denying blokes are Adrian Mariappa’s bread and butter., "Why Unsung Hero Mariappa Deserves to Win Watford Player of the Season Award," 7 May 2018 The box-office market for smaller films for adult audiences — previously the Weinsteins' bread and butter — has become increasingly perilous as audiences flock to either mega-budget blockbusters or micro-budget horror movies. Ryan Faughnder,, "Buying Harvey Weinstein's former studio may be the easy part for Contreras-Sweet. Now what?," 3 Mar. 2018 In the near term, the F-Series will continue to be the bread and butter of Ford. Phoebe Wall Howard, USA TODAY, "Why Ford is hitching its future to trucks," 19 Mar. 2018 State residents flocked to the service over the weekend for a trial run, but the line’s bread and butter — workers headed to Hartford or New Haven and beyond — were in the stations early Monday. Shawn R. Beals,, "Hartford Line’s First Daily Commuters Begin Using Rail Service," 18 June 2018 And, most important, what deals were cut over bread and butter? Chris Brennan,, "The Democratic establishment is standing behind Daylin Leach after #MeToo allegations | Clout," 15 June 2018 As far as beauty vloggers go, makeup tutorials are pretty much the bread and butter of their industry. Rosemary Donahue, Allure, "This Dog Just Did a Makeup Tutorial to Rival Even the Best Beauty Vlogger," 7 Jan. 2018

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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Statistics for bread-and-butter

Last Updated

21 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for bread-and-butter

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

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