bread·​win·​ner | \ ˈbred-ˌwi-nər How to pronounce breadwinner (audio) \

Definition of breadwinner

1 : a means (such as a tool or craft) of livelihood
2 : a member of a family whose wages supply its livelihood

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from breadwinner

breadwinning \ ˈbred-​ˌwi-​niŋ How to pronounce breadwinner (audio) \ noun

Examples of breadwinner in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web With the proceeds from the sales of the doll pattern, King’s gone from from stay-at-home mom with an Etsy shop on the side to the primary breadwinner. René A. Guzman,, "Corpus Christi woman’s crocheted Bernie Sanders doll sells on eBay for more than $20,300 to benefit Meals on Wheels," 26 Jan. 2021 For the last six months, 29-year-old Esli Becerra of Portland has been the primary breadwinner for his family of four. oregonlive, "Oregon ‘Dreamers’ see ‘speck of light’ on the horizon with Joe Biden’s inauguration," 20 Jan. 2021 Suhauna Hussain reported on how Proposition 22 held sway over whether Zayyid’s family — left without a breadwinner — would receive death benefits from the state. Rachel Schnalzer, Los Angeles Times, "2020 changed the way we live, work and spend. Here’s a look back," 29 Dec. 2020 Make no mistake: Women who are often the sole or primary breadwinner in their families are paying a particularly painful price. Valerie Jarrett, Fortune, "Valerie Jarrett: We need a President who understands the challenges of working women," 2 Nov. 2020 John, who requested that CNN Business not use his real name, is the sole breadwinner in his family and has two children. Matt Egan, CNN, "From Exxon to Charles Schwab, white-collar job cuts are mounting," 30 Oct. 2020 What does the economy look like for a Black breadwinner mom? Katica Roy, Fortune, "In tackling the country’s biggest problems, Biden and Harris need to prioritize gender and racial equity," 17 Dec. 2020 Her father, the breadwinner of the family, was unwell and bed-ridden even before the pandemic. Priya Ranjan Sahu, Quartz India, "In one Indian state, Covid-19 has led to a spike in the number of child marriages," 16 Nov. 2020 This spring, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the factory where his father worked, Ramos became the household’s sole breadwinner for a few months, working at a plant that packages meat. Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, "Inside the Lives of Immigrant Teens Working Dangerous Night Shifts in Suburban Factories," 19 Nov. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of breadwinner

circa 1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about breadwinner

Time Traveler for breadwinner

Time Traveler

The first known use of breadwinner was circa 1614

See more words from the same year

Statistics for breadwinner

Last Updated

7 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Breadwinner.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for breadwinner



English Language Learners Definition of breadwinner

: a person who earns money to support a family

More from Merriam-Webster on breadwinner

Nglish: Translation of breadwinner for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breadwinner for Arabic Speakers

Comments on breadwinner

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!