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

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 That’s our bread and butter, getting into hearts and minds of people who played before. Andy Patrizio, Ars Technica, "EverQuest’s long, strange 20-year trip still has no end in sight," 6 June 2019 But add politics — which is the bread and butter of cable news — and its downright horrifying. Georgea Kovanis, Detroit Free Press, "Healthy or censorship? Life Time's ban of cable network news is just sad," 12 Jan. 2018 But energy exporters say the port is ignoring its bread and butter. Erica E. Phillips, WSJ, "Fight Brews in Houston’s Port Over Energy Exports," 19 Dec. 2018 Veja’s bread and butter, yet a relatively new category for Lemaire. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Lemaire’s Collaboration With Veja Includes Sustainable, 3-D Knitted Sneakers Inspired By Diving Shoes," 6 Mar. 2019 It will still be focused on basics, Heattech's bread and butter (think bodysuits, T-shirts, leggings, and, yes, underwear), but with that Wang twist (like neon green accents). Ana Colón, Glamour, "Alexander Wang Designed a Line for Uniqlo's Heattech, and Everything Is Under $50," 24 Oct. 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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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

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).


to complain fretfully

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