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

Trump can blame a NATO spending rule for all this, but the real failure lies closer to home—with his own preference for military showmanship over bread and butter programs that are already par for the course in Europe. Lindsay Koshgarian, Fortune, "Trump’s Complaints About NATO Defense Spending Don’t Add Up," 12 July 2018 The resort's bread and butter the rest of the year: sun-seeking tourists and conventioneers from across the globe. Dawn Gilbertson, azcentral, "Iconic Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix sold for $403 million," 23 Apr. 2018 By now, masterfully packing a week's worth of work outfits into a carry-on is her religion, and lightweight tech is her bread and butter. Holly Rhue, Marie Claire, "Away Founder Jen Rubio Does Her Best Work 20,000-Feet Up in the Air," 5 Dec. 2018 At a time of volatile oil prices, shale is particularly appealing because shale projects pay off faster compared with the big offshore projects that are the bread and butter of companies like BP and Chevron. Sarah Kent, WSJ, "BP’s Shale Deal Signals Big Ambitions," 27 July 2018 That said, infantry combat is the bread and butter of the Marine Corps. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Marines Are in the Market For Brand New Rifles," 4 Apr. 2017 At 6-foot-10, 215 pounds, Igiehon can be a versatile college player, though his bread and butter will be running the floor, rebounding and blocking shots. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "3 prospects who could help Louisville basketball's 2019 signing class," 11 July 2018 Feature film work may be ILM’s bread and butter, but with television shows becoming increasingly more complex and expensive, moving into that space will allow the company to add an additional revenue stream to its business. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Industrial Light & Magic opens TV division just in time for Disney’s new Star Wars show," 7 Nov. 2018 While some series can get away with operating as an escape from reality (utter detachment is Trial & Error’s bread and butter) there’s not enough meat on The Good Cop’s bones to justify its seeming absence of connection to the world it’s set in. Karen Han, Vox, "Josh Groban and Tony Danza’s appealing odd-couple dynamic can’t quite save The Good Cop," 21 Sep. 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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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 servile follower or underling

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