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

Definition of breadwinner

1 : 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
2 : 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

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 His wife, Lital Salahiya, an Israeli Jew, is now the sole breadwinner through her job as a supermarket cashier. Dov Lieber, WSJ, 29 July 2022 Government services in the area have largely ceased, and Natasha became the family’s main breadwinner when neighbors fled and left their house and dairy cows in her care. New York Times, 31 July 2022 Carrillo-Carrillo, who is normally the main breadwinner for their family, has been held at Otay Mesa Detention Center since December, though his immigration case has been pending for much longer. San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 May 2022 Elvia Angulo, a housekeeper at the Oakland Marriott City Center for 17 years, is the main breadwinner in her family. Jennifer Sinco Kelleher And Anita Snow, Anchorage Daily News, 26 May 2022 Alfonce Nyamwaya, a close friend, told the Star that Nyabuto was the breadwinner for her family in Kenya. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, 24 Aug. 2022 All of which means that caregivers are once again facing the impossible task of acting as parent, breadwinner, and teacher—all at once. Krista Langlois, Outside Online, 12 Sep. 2020 His pregnant wife, Heather (Dunham), only weeks from giving birth, is the family’s breadwinner and leaves the home every morning in a gust of stress and anxiety. Sarah-tai Black, Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2022 When covid stole Fareeda Beharry from their lives, her family lost not only their matriarch and primary breadwinner but also their anchor. Anchorage Daily News, 8 May 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of breadwinner

circa 1614, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Time Traveler for breadwinner

Time Traveler

The first known use of breadwinner was circa 1614

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Dictionary Entries Near breadwinner

bread wheat



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Statistics for breadwinner

Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Breadwinner.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on breadwinner

Nglish: Translation of breadwinner for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of breadwinner for Arabic Speakers


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