Bread-and-butter



bread spread with butter.
a basic means of support; source of livelihood; sustenance:
The automobile industry is the bread and butter of many Detroiters.
providing a livelihood or basic source of income; supplying the basic needs of life:
a bread-and-butter job; the agency’s bread-and-butter account.
of or relating to basic needs:
housing and other bread-and-butter political issues.
basic or everyday; staple; routine.
expressing thanks for hospitality:
a bread-and-butter letter.
Contemporary Examples

Marco Rubio’s Big Moment Could Come With Immigration Reform David Freedlander January 29, 2013
The GOP’s New Hope? Reihan Salam November 19, 2009
From Church of Christ to Pansexual Rapper Tyler Gillespie November 27, 2014

Historical Examples

The Rebel of the School Mrs. L. T. Meade
A Great Man Arnold Bennett
The Small House at Allington Anthony Trollope
Mountain Moggy William H. G. Kingston
Felix Holt, The Radical George Eliot
Adventures in Many Lands Various
An Engagement of Convenience Louis Zangwill

noun
(modifier) a means of support or subsistence; livelihood: the inheritance was their bread and butter
bread-and-butter

providing a basic means of subsistence: a bread-and-butter job
solid, reliable, or practical: a bread-and-butter player
expressing gratitude, as for hospitality (esp in the phrase bread-and-butter letter)

The essential, sustaining element, as in The quality of the schools is the bread and butter of town property values. This idiom alludes to a basic food, bread spread with butter. [ c. 1700 ]
Means of livelihood, as in John’s job is the family’s bread and butter. [ First half of 1700s ]
Ordinary, routine, as in Don’t worry about it; this is just a bread and butter assignment. [ Second half of 1800s ]

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