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

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Other Words from breadwinner

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

Examples of breadwinner in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Even when women were the breadwinners, their rights and recognition remained limited. Soraya Roberts, Longreads, "‘Women Created Our Worlds:’ Native Art Reclaims Its Power," 20 June 2019 But when her father -- a middle-class businessman dealing in imports and exports -- lost his leg in an accident, her mother and the remaining six daughters were left without a breadwinner. Edward Kiernan, CNN, "They wanted a son so much they made their daughter live as a boy," 18 June 2019 Most fathers are no longer the sole breadwinners and have become more involved in family life. National Geographic, "Enjoy Father's Day? Thank the woman who spent 62 years campaigning for it.," 17 June 2019 Increasingly, Americans fear outliving their savings more than the premature death of a major breadwinner. Robert Barba, WSJ, "Nestlé to Sell Gerber Life Insurance to Western & Southern Financial," 17 Sep. 2018 In Ukraine in 2005, 19,000 families were receiving government assistance owing to the loss of a breadwinner whose death was deemed to be related to the Chernobyl accident. Serhii Plokhy, Time, "The True Cost of the Chernobyl Disaster Has Been Greater Than It Seems," 26 Apr. 2018 Many became the breadwinners in families that couldn’t depend on a husband’s salary alone to survive. Eun-young Jeong, WSJ, "Sex Abuse is Rampant in North Korea, Reports Say," 31 Oct. 2018 Ismail was the main breadwinner in his household because his father has been unable to fish since suffering a slipped disk. Alexandra Zavis,, "In Gaza Strip protests, the anger has many targets," 14 May 2018 With three children to raise and no husband to provide for them, my mother became the sole breadwinner. Peter Rezk, Teen Vogue, "America’s Criminal Justice System Is Failing Young People Like Me. Clean Slate Laws Are the Answer," 14 Dec. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of breadwinner

1720, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near breadwinner


bread tree

bread wheat





Statistics for breadwinner

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for breadwinner

The first known use of breadwinner was in 1720

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English Language Learners Definition of breadwinner

: a person who earns money to support a family

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More from Merriam-Webster on breadwinner

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with breadwinner

Spanish Central: Translation of breadwinner

Nglish: Translation of breadwinner for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breadwinner for Arabic Speakers

Comments on breadwinner

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something desired as essential

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