bread and butter

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bread and butter (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) That which is central or fundamental, as to one's business, survival, or income; a staple or cornerstone.
    They will do some machining if you ask them, but sheet metal has always been their bread and butter.
    • 2017, Samantha X, Back on Top: Confessions of a High-Class Escort[1], Hachette, →ISBN:
      Every escort has at least one or two regular clients; they are our bread and butter.
  2. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see bread,‎ butter.

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bread and butter

  1. Said when two people walking together are temporarily separated by an obstacle in order to indicate that they belong together.
    • 1989, Vergilius Ture Anselm Ferm, Lightning never strikes twice (if you own a feather bed):, page 238:
      Should this happen, retrace your steps to the point of separation if you wish to counteract the spell. Or, say the words "bread and butter."
    • 2003, William Safire, No Uncertain Terms, page 46:
      Peter Bartis, at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, explains, “Bread and butter go together, a sign of unity.” He finds a citation in the seven-volume Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore: “If two persons are walking and they come to ... “When walkers were separated and did not use this phrase or bread and butter,” DARE adds, “it was believed they would have a quarrel.
    • 2011, James Hilliard, The Doll Show:
      "Bread and butter," the larger of the two women quipped as they moved past their Nancy-obstacle. "Bread and butter!".
    • 2011, D. E. Wittkower, Mr. Monk and Philosophy: The Curious Case of the Defective Detective:
      Before Trudy succumbed to her injuries from the bomb that destroyed her car, she uttered the words “bread and butter. Monk tells us that whenever he and Trudy had to part ways, even if only briefly, she would say bread and butter.
    • 2014, Wendy Davis, Forgetting to Be Afraid: A Memoir:
      If one of us kids was walking alongside him and we were separated by an object, whether a light pole or a person walking between us, my dad always muttered, “Bread and butter.”