bread·​win·​ner ˈbred-ˌwi-nər How to pronounce breadwinner (audio)
plural breadwinners
: a member of a family whose wages supply the family's principal or only means of support
the main/primary/sole breadwinner in the family
… many more households have two breadwinners, making it unlikely that there will be someone home all afternoon to cook.Mark Bittman
: a means (such as a tool, craft, or activity) of livelihood : a way of earning income
Crop diversity kept the overall value of Montana agriculture strong even as wheat, the state agriculture's breadwinner, faltered.Tom Lutey
Catfish farming has become the breadwinner industry for many families in west Alabama …Robert Dewitt and Benita D. Newton
breadwinning noun

Examples of breadwinner in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This would mean a tax hike for couples with a breadwinner and a tax break for dual-earning couples with kids. Robert Verbruggen, Fortune, 15 Apr. 2024 Some 25 women in the co-op are the sole breadwinners for their families. Cameron Pugh, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Apr. 2024 The father was the breadwinner of the family 90% of the time on TV shows, another example of how the families didn't reflect real-life statistics. Stephanie Petit, Peoplemag, 7 Mar. 2024 The results highlight a lack of diversity: Moms are largely depicted as white, young, thin and rarely as the breadwinner of their families. Ellie Austin, Fortune, 9 Mar. 2024 Sunar said her husband, the sole breadwinner in the house, who used to work making silver jewelry and utensils, had joined the Russian army solely for money – to build a better life for the family. Sugam Pokharel, CNN, 11 Feb. 2024 Still, her research shows that educational progress among women has done little to change who the breadwinner is in the family. Karishma Mehrotra, Washington Post, 9 Dec. 2023 For years before the story broke, Stormy had been the breadwinner. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 18 Mar. 2024 One man is accepting his wife’s new role as the breadwinner with open arms. Charlotte Phillipp, Peoplemag, 17 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'breadwinner.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1614, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of breadwinner was circa 1614

Dictionary Entries Near breadwinner

Cite this Entry

“Breadwinner.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


bread·​win·​ner ˈbred-ˌwin-ər How to pronounce breadwinner (audio)
: a person whose wages provide support for his or her family

More from Merriam-Webster on breadwinner

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