“Bread and Butter” Meaning with Useful Examples in English

Last Updated on March 18, 2020

The idiomatic phrase “bread and butter” is a phrase you may hear or see frequently in everyday conversation and writing. Here you will find the meaning of this phrase and the information of its origin. You will also find examples of how to properly use the phrase in conversations/statements and find suggestions on other ways to say the phrase while still conveying the same meaning.

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter Meaning

The idiomatic phrase “bread and butter” has four different meanings. The meaning being used must be determined by the context of the sentence it is used in. The phrase “bread and butter” can be used as a noun to mean the basics of something or to describe the job you rely on for income. The phrase can also be used as an adjective to mean common or something that provides you stability financially.

Origin of this idiom

The phrase “bread and butter” was first used sometime during the 1700s. At this time, the phrase was simply used to describe the essentials of something. It was not until sometime in the 1800s that the additional meanings were adopted and implied with the phrase. Additionally, the term “bread and butter” is sometimes said by people as they walk together. When an object comes between them and they are forced to separate before rejoining one another, the couple says “bread and butter” as an act of superstition in an attempt to circumvent any issues that may come between them in the future.

“Bread and Butter” Examples

Examples in Statements

A statement made to an entertainment magazine by a popular musical artist.

  • “I could get a Monday-Friday, 9-5 job if I had to. I did go to college and get my Bachelor’s Degree in IT. However, playing music is the bread and butter of my soul. I was born to play music.”

A statement made in a recent interview for a local newspaper story.

  • “I still can’t believe they have shut down the plant I have worked in all my life. That job was my bread and butter! I have no idea what I am going to do now.”

Examples in Conversations

A conversation between two co-workers at the office.

  • Co-worker 1: The company needs to stop focusing so much on all this high tech stuff.
  • Co-worker 2: I completely agree with you. We need to get back to the bread and butter of it all to fix the issues we already have before introducing new things.
  • Co-worker 1: My thoughts exactly! I mean, you need to know the basics before you can leap forward.

A conversation between two friends walking through the park.

  • Friend 1: I don’t know what to do now.
  • Friend 2: What do you mean? What is going on?
  • Friend 1: William lost his job yesterday. Just out of the blue, his boss came up and told him they were downsizing and he had been laid off.
  • Friend 2: He should be able to get unemployment at least for the time being until he can find something else.
  • Friend 1: Yes, I know that. However, his job was our bread and butter. With the new baby coming soon, we were counting on his income and benefits to cover all the stuff we need and to cover the labor and delivery.

More useful examples:

  • The mobile phone business was actually his bread and butter.
  • Gardening is my bread and butter at the moment.
  • The local operators manage the bread and butter chores of poster production and display, media buys and the like.
  • He doesn’t just write for fun, writing is his bread and butter.
  • How does he earn his bread and butter?
  • Before that, my bread and butter was going out and doing concerts.
  • Routine office work is my bread and butter.

Other Ways to Say “Bread And Butter”

There are several other ways you could say the phrase “bread and butter.” Some of the other ways you could say this phrase and convey the same meaning include:

  • Sole income
  • Livelihood
  • Provided basic needs
  • Source of income
  • Means of income
  • Source of livelihood

Bread and Butter | Picture

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