Definition of bread in English:

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Pronunciation: /brɛd/


[mass noun]
1Food made of flour, water, and yeast mixed together and baked: a loaf of bread [as modifier]: a bread roll [count noun]: Italian breads
More example sentences
  • Unfortified whole wheat bread and bread baked from cake flour will still be available.
  • Substitute whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour when baking bread.
  • Baking a loaf of bread will change the way you think about food.
1.1The bread or wafer used in the Eucharist: altar bread
More example sentences
  • Now this was according to God's will, so that the church might be provided with pure altar bread made by the hands of a chaste and innocent youth.
  • After all, the consecrated bread had become body, and a body already contains blood.
  • In his place was a priest with power to turn wine into blood and wafers of bread into flesh.
1.2The food that one needs in order to live: his day job puts bread on the table
More example sentences
  • His dad's job is putting bread on the table.
  • Of course we must end poverty, and give men and women enough bread to live on.
  • Let it be enough for you to have bread and live virtuously and poorly like Christ, as I do here.
2 informal Money: I hate doing this, but I need the bread
More example sentences
  • It makes sense to use your head and spread the bread.
  • The uncreative tell the creative what to do because they want the bread.
  • She's going to be tired and irritable, and bound to bring up the subject of who earns the bread.


[with object]
Coat (food) with breadcrumbs before cooking: bread the chicken and fry it in oil.
More example sentences
  • Use a separate breading station for vegetables and meats or just make sure you bread the vegetables first.
  • Continue breading each food item, keeping them separate on the plate or baking sheet.
  • Bread meat, chicken and fish rather than broiling or roasting them.



be the best (or greatest) thing since sliced bread

informal Be very good: they think that she is the greatest thing since sliced bread
More example sentences
  • She finally locates the Assistant Wine Whatever-His-Title-Is, and he of the broad-smile-on-a-wide-face recommends the wine as if it were the next best thing since sliced bread.
  • Some people are a little confused by this latest trend, wondering what all the fuss is about and why it's becoming the next best thing since sliced bread.
  • While some analysts think it's the next best thing since sliced bread, it has the feeling of WAP redux.

bread and circuses

Entertainment or political policies used to keep the mass of people happy and docile: with football and politics as the bread and circuses of our decadent empire, whither religion?
Translating Latin panem et circenses (Juvenal's Satires, x.80)
More example sentences
  • It also feeds nationalist hunger among the populace, making them proud of the achievements of their country even while they realize that they live under an authoritarian and corrupt government - bread and circuses for the masses.
  • And this kind of mass entertainment destroyed the morality of the Roman people, who no longer worked for a living; they lived on bread and circuses, on entertainment and the dole.
  • Outside its locked doors, amid atmospheric squalor, the huddling masses distract themselves with bread and circuses, while one man agitates for revolution.

bread and water

A frugal diet that is eaten in poverty, chosen in abstinence, or given as a punishment: he could be put on bread and water for forty-eight hours
More example sentences
  • What these people need is a diet of bread and water.
  • This included locking them up for a week on a diet of bread and water.
  • The 32 measures included sleep and sensory deprivation, the use of military dogs to terrify prisoners, temperature extremes and diets of bread and water.

bread and wine

The consecrated elements used in the celebration of the Eucharist; the sacrament of the Eucharist: he rejected the idea of any physical presence of Christ in the bread and wine
More example sentences
  • We know him: in our prayer, in the bread and wine of the sacrament, in every gracious word, in smiles of generous welcome and in every moment of joy or beauty that leaves us more whole and human.
  • And what we have is some bread and wine - consecrated by the Word and prayer to be to us the body and blood of our Lord.
  • We need to live our lives formed by the radical sharing of bread and wine in the Eucharist.

the bread of life

A source of spiritual nourishment: the Roman Catholic Church and faith were the bread of life to the subordinate classes
More example sentences
  • Distributing the bread of life by preaching Christ to sinners is a greater work than feeding five thousand with loaves and fishes.
  • He is the Holy One of God, he is the bread of life that came down from heaven.
  • It is to this place that those whom Jesus raises from the dead will go as well as those who have eaten the bread of life which comes down from heaven.

break bread

Celebrate the Eucharist: as we gathered to break bread, a sense of thanksgiving ran through us
More example sentences
  • Later, however, precise details would be given: namely, that this confession would take place when the community gathered on each Lord's day to break bread and celebrate the Eucharist.
  • Rather than ceasing to baptize or break bread, Lewis suggests an attitude of repentance because of the lack of unity among Christians.
  • I am thinking especially of the oil painting in the Louvre where a tired and almost anaemic God is recognised by the two disciples with whom he breaks bread in the inn at Emmaus.
dated6.1 Share a meal with someone: Donald’s staying to break bread with us
More example sentences
  • I was able to break bread with him just last week.
  • I'm out of town the rest of today for a loan closing and to break bread with an old friend or two.
  • Local residents can fire questions and voice concerns and break bread with them as they pass.

one cannot live by bread alone

People have spiritual as well as physical needs: we cannot live by bread alone, but it helps
With biblical allusion to Deut. 8:3, Matt. 4:4
More example sentences
  • As they say, you cannot live by bread alone, so be sure to take care of the liquid side of your diet as well.
  • Advocates of Taiwan independence, particularly those residing comfortably in the United States, like to point out that one cannot live by bread alone, but must have the personal freedom of choice.
  • Biblically, one cannot live by bread alone, but Lent has seen me living almost entirely on Starbucks’ avocado and sun dried tomato sandwiches, with banana and toffee muffins for dessert!

cast one's bread upon the waters

Do good without expecting gratitude or reward: if you don’t cast your bread upon the waters, it won’t come back to you when you need it most
With biblical allusion to Eccles. 11:1
More example sentences
  • And we cast our bread upon the waters and fed the birds - ducks, swans, and fat pigeons on the banks.
  • The apostle had cast his bread upon the waters of Ilissus and Cephisus to find it after many days.
  • Often the best I can do personally is to cast my bread upon the waters and hope that it will feed somebody.

one's daily bread

The money or food that one needs in order to live: she earned her daily bread by working long hours
More example sentences
  • What prompted this woman - earning her daily bread through selling live chickens and running a dry cleaning agency - to embark on such a mission?
  • To the extent that it undermines the stable provision of daily bread, it is actively dangerous to the safety and stability of the world, including to ourselves.
  • But for the integrity and the respect of the innocent billions, earning their daily bread under the confines of economic stagnation, that deserve a shelter of peace.

know which side one's bread is buttered (on)

informal Know where one’s advantage lies: middle-class people who know which side their bread is buttered
More example sentences
  • Holland is a sober-suited confidant who knows which side his bread is buttered on.
  • After all, the quiet genius with a wicked wit knows which side his bread is buttered on.
  • There are various ways of sidestepping such rules, but one of the best ones is only to brief an expert with a well-developed reputation of knowing which side his bread is buttered on.

take the bread out of (or from) people's mouths

Deprive people of their livings by competition or unfair working practices: he declared it would be better to get fair wages than see the bread taken out of our mouths
More example sentences
  • Public funds rest upon taxation: they take the bread out of people's mouths, willing or no.

want one's bread buttered on both sides

informal Want more than is practicable or than is reasonable to expect: the play wants its bread buttered on both sides
More example sentences
  • He is not willing to make any sacrifice but wants his bread buttered on both sides.
  • She wants her bread buttered on both sides - she does not want to be committed to one person
  • Universities that want their bread buttered on both sides when it comes to affirmative action would do better to apply more fiber than fat in their reasoning.


Old English brēad, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch brood and German Brot.

  • In Old English bread was not the standard term for the familiar food. That was loaf, which has since become restricted to a lump of bread. Bread was such an important part of the diet in the past that it came to stand for food in general. That is why the old translation of the Lord's Prayer says ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. It also lies behind the word breadwinner (early 19th century) for the person whose income feeds the family and to be on the breadline (early 20th century). The sense ‘money’, suggested by the similar use of dough (Old English), was originally 1930s underworld slang in the USA. People have been writing bread and butter letters as a thank you for hospitality since the beginning of the 20th century, initially in the USA, but have known which side their bread is buttered since at least the mid 16th.

Words that rhyme with bread

abed, ahead, bed, behead, Birkenhead, bled, bred, coed, cred, crossbred, dead, dread, Ed, embed, Enzed, fed, fled, Fred, gainsaid, head, infrared, ked, lead, led, Med, misled, misread, Ned, outspread, premed, pure-bred, read, red, redd, said, samoyed, shed, shred, sked, sled, sped, Spithead, spread, stead, ted, thread, tread, underbred, underfed, wed

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bread

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