Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bread n.1

1. employment, a means of earning money; thus out of bread, unemployed [Yid. broyt, money, but note Partridge’s suggestion rhy. sl. bread and honey n.].

[UK] ‘Venus Unmasked’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) II 181: Nay, she that scorns to sin for Bread, / But squeaks and blushes like a Maid, / When Men attempt their Joys.
[UK]Hist. of the remarkable Life of John Sheppard 35: There was publish’d a whimsical letter, as from Sheppard, to Jack Ketch, which afforded Diversion to the Town, and Bread to the Author.
[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 5 July 169/1: Why he’s one of them as you call Molly Culls, he gets his Bread that way; to my certain Knowledge he has got many a Crown under some Gentlemen, for going of sodomiting Errands.
[UK]Life and Character of Moll King 4: She was, when very young, obliged to get her Bread in the Streets with her Mother.
[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 273: One or two graciosos, who, I will be bold to say, would scarce be able to earn their bread by their talents, on any other theatre under the sun.
[UK]O. Goldsmith Vicar of Wakefield (1883) 144: I was now obliged to take a middle course, and write for bread.
[UK]Cleland Woman of Honor I 173: She soon lost her bread and service at Mrs. Mabberley’s [...] being with child by him.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 26 June 258/1: Q. How does he get his bread? [...] Dove Benjamin. I am his mother: he has always been an industrious youth; he sells all manner of haberdashery; he goes to markets and fairs.
[UK]G.A. Stevens Adventures of a Speculist II 246: Can you now, in your own conscience, expect a girl who has her bread to get, can confine herself to one man?
[UK]T. Morton Speed the Plough I ii: sir abel: Earn his livelihood! ash.: Ees, zur; – how do he gain his bread? sir abel: Bread! oh, he can’t earn his bread, bless you! he’s a genius.
[US]Yankey in London 88: Thousands get their bread by making ornamental dresses.
[UK]‘Peter Corcoran’ ‘Lines to Philip Samson’ in Fancy 88: Go back to Brummagem, while you’ve a head on! / For bread from the Fancy is light weight enough.
[UK] ‘The Laundress & Her Ass’ Rambler’s Flash Songster 3: About five miles from town, lived one Sarah Brown, / By washing she did earn her bread.
[US]P.T. Barnum letter in Saxon Sel. Letters (1983) 24 Sept. 49: No man ever fought harder for his bread.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 481/2: I helps, you see, sir, where I can, for mother (who sells sheep’s-trotters) depends a deal on her trotters, but they’re not great bread for an old ’oman, and there’s me and Neddy to keep. [Ibid.] III 160/1: I always try and listen to a new tune when I am in the street, and get it off if I can: it’s my bread.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 313/1: i am out of bread, I am in bad bread, j’ai perdu ma place.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 65: She hears [...] Of the torture in store for the outcast who sins for her daily bread.
[US]Northern Trib. (Cheboygan, MI) 7 Feb. 2/1: It is not for glory that people will vote [...] but for bread, employment, comofrtable existence.
[UK]‘F. Anstey’ Voces Populi 39: I don’t want ter be idle. I ain’t on’y my one trade to earn my bread by.
[US]Kansas Agitator (Garnett, KS) 19 Mar. 1/1: I am grateful for the opportunity of getting my bread by reputable employm,ent.
[UK]R. Whiteing No. 5 John Street 275: Nance has seen the doctor, and the truth is out. She is being slowly poisoned to earn her bread.

2. (also breads) money [something one might eat but also basic to life, as is bread].

[US]A.J. Liebling Back Where I Came From (1990) 135: Before prohibition I earned good bread.
[US]Ramsey & Smith Jazzmen 63: Inside the low, smoky room, the musicians sweated for their bread.
[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 239: He was hustling for his bread somewhere in town.
[US]Mad mag. June 20: I sent in my bread a long time ago.
[US]E. De Roo Young Wolves 118: How come you gotta say ‘money’? Can’tcha be modern and say ‘vitamins’ or ‘bread’ or somethin’ like that?
[UK]N. Cohn Awopbop. (1970) 16: When they went looking for things to spend their new-found bread on, they found absolutely nothing.
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 44: Money [...] That’s what we got to talk about, kid. Bread. The staff of life.
[US]Grandmaster Melle Mel ‘Hustler’s Convention’ [lyrics] You pick the red you get all my bread.
[UK]I. Welsh Trainspotting 66: Ah need the hireys man [...] The poppy, likesay, eh . . . the bread, the dosh n that.
[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 6: Breads money: u. let-off some breads. can you spare some change?
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 42: Tell him thanks [...] And keep the bread.
[UK]R. Antoni Carnival 121: Leh me see if I could make some change for this breads now.
[Aus]T. Peacock More You Bet 67: ‘Money’ [...] might also be referred to as ‘cash’, or ‘coin’, or ‘oscar’, or ‘moolah’, or ‘notes’, or ‘bills’, or ‘chips’ or ‘brass’, or ‘dosh’, or ‘dough’, or ‘bread’, or ‘biscuits’, or ‘bullets’, or ‘ammunition’.
J. Spades ‘Anytime I Want’ [lyrics] I get bread so the girls show me love.

In derivatives

In compounds

breadhead (n.) [-head sfx (3); coined by anti-materialist hippies in the 1960s]

an individual who is interested primarily in acquiring money.

[UK]Gandalf’s Garden 6 n.d. 10: bread-head: One who spends the majority of his mental activity on making money.
[UK]Listener 20 Aug. n.p.: They are what the Underground would call breadheads [KH].
[UK]K. Hudson Dict. of Teenage Revolution 27: Breadhead. A person who pretends to have adopted an Alternative Lifestyle, but who in fact devotes much of his energy to the mainline pursuit of making money.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 25 Feb. 4: In yesterday’s FT – a number of leading ‘bread heads’ signed up to a statement.
S. Gupta Hacking in the Computer World 57: Anyone motivated by greed for mere money (as opposed to the greed for power, knowledge and status) is swiftly written-off as a narrowminded breadhead.
L. Cody Gimme More n.p.: ‘She’s still a fullon breadhead,’ Teddy said. ‘You know she’s always fighting the labels to give her half Jack’s royalties?’.
[UK]I. Welsh Decent Ride 246: Seems tae me that he’s a breadhead that just husnae goat your vision.
bread stasher (n.) [stash v.1 (2)]

(orig. US black) a working man.

[US]in M. Starks Cocaine Fiends 108/1: My old man was a bread-stasher all his life; He never got fat. He wound up with a used car, a seventeen- inch screen. And arthritis.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad 20: Bread stasher Working stiff, wage slave, someone who saves for a rainy day.

In phrases

break some bread (v.)

(US Und.) of a prostitute, to make some money.

[US]W.T. Vollmann Royal Family 594: Shake it down; break some bread, you little cocksucker fuckin’ bitchmama shitass.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

bread and bread (n.)

a homosexual couple; thus bread and bread don’t make a sandwich, the response given by one effeminate gay man when partnered with another.

[US]Maledicta IX 194: This article and series devoted to sexual slang would be incomplete without some notice of catch phrases, both British and American: […] bread and bread don’t make a sandwich (reply of a femme gay offered another one; also I’m a pouf, not a lesbian).
bread and butter

see separate entries.

bread and cheese (adj.)

see separate entry.

bread and pullet (n.) [SE bread + pun on SE pull it]

bread with no butter, jam or other additive.

[UK]N&Q 6 Ser. II 10 July 36/2: To one asking what he can have to eat, it is considered very clever to say, ‘Bread and pullet.’ ‘Let’s have it, then,’ says he. A big lump of bread is set on the table and he asks for the chicken. [...] ‘Why here’s nought but bread.’ ‘Well, pull it, and you’ll have “bread and pull it ”’.
[UK]G.F. Northall Folk-Phrases of Four Counties 11: Bread and pull it (pullet).
[UK]Chelmsford Chron. 9 Feb. 8/3: Dear Mother and father [...] How did you spend Christmas? I enjoyed mine immensely — dry bread and pullet.
[UK]Leighton Buzzard Obs. 10 Oct. 6/2: There were times in my home when we had not any of these to spread on our bread [...] It wa s a case of ‘bread and pullet’ for breakfast.
[UK]Beds. Times 24 Dec. 6/1: [He] has been a convert to margarine and is of the opinion that people who cannot eat it ought to be fed on bread and pullet.
[UK]Western Gaz. 29 Nov. 5/3: I suppose most readers will have heard the old West Country saying of the bread and pullet lunch. You take your piece of bread and pull it!
bread and scrape (n.) (also bread and spit)

1. a piece of bread barely covered in a thin layer or scrape of butter or meat dripping.

Littell’s Spirit of Mags & Jrnls 4 443/1: A small lump of butter was formally melted in a cup of hot water; and this oleaginous fluid was simply painted [...] over the upper surface of the slices of bread. This plan leaves the old ‘bread and scrape’ system entirely in the rear.
[C. Brontë J. Eyre Ch. vii: A double ration of bread [...] with the delicious addition of a thin scrape of butter].
[UK]G.A. Sala Quite Alone I 233: Cake and wine existed no more in her allure; she was suggestive only of bread and scrape and sky-blue.
[UK]R. Broughton Nancy III 213: Some people have their happiness thinly spread over their whole lives, like bread and scrape!
[UK]Sheffield Eve. Teleg. 27 Mar. 1/7: [advert] Children must have fat. They cannot thrive on ‘Bread and Scrape’.
[UK]Sheffield Eve. Teleg. 7 Dec. n.p.: [advert] No bread and scrape for your family in this war!
[US]Orlando Sentinel (FL) 2 May 23/4: English slang [...] Bread and scrape is bread and butter.
[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 76: Bit of bread and scrape’ll do me.
[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 119: Even ‘bread and scrape’ (or scratch) once usually a meagre film of dripping, but now more often ‘marge’, is ‘yummy’ if you’re hungry.
[UK](con. 1918) P. Barker Eye in the Door 93: They were glad of a bit of bread and scrape before the war.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 34: bread and scrape/bread and spit Very little to eat.

2. used fig. to implied a limited or second-rate portion.

[UK]Western Gaz. 21 Aug. 10/7: In much chamber music the first violin has bread and jam and the others only bread and scrape.
bread and skip (n.) [e.g. ‘bread and molasses, and skip the molasses’]

(US) an inadequate meal.

[US]Yankee 56: Dear Oracle, A friend of mine told me that [...] whenever he asked his mother what they were having for dinner, she always answered, ‘bread and skip.’ He never found out what that meant. Do you know? Answer: No second course [DARE].
[US]NADS letters n.p.: Bread and skip: ‘bread and molasses, and skip the molasses,’ or whatever the sweet stuff mout [sic] be [DARE].
bread and with it (n.)

a light meal, e.g. a loaf of bread and (something else) with it.

(ref. to mid-19C) Omaha World-Herald and Nebraska Editors’ Day 24 Aug. on Omaha Public Library [Internet] The settlers of those days may have had to live largely on ‘bread and with it’, but no heroes have greater claims on the world’s history than the pioneers of Nebraska.
bread-bag (n.)

the stomach.

[UK]Navy at Home II 311: The purser [...] had been hit in the bread bag.
W.N. Glascock Naval Sketch-book II 179: My eye, purser, you’ve had a southerly wind in the bread-bag!
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
breadbasket (n.) (also bread panier) [boxing jargon]

(orig. boxing) the stomach; thus breadbasketer, a blow to the stomach.

[UK]Foote Englishman in Paris in Works (1799) I 36: Another came up to second time, but I let drive at the monk, made the soup-maigre rumble in his bread-basket, and laid him sprawling.
[UK]Scots Mag. 2 Sept.28/2: There may be little minds that enjoy these squabbles with as much satisfaction as they do the alternate strokes on the bread-baskets of two bruisers.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 165: Then threw his stick, which with a thump / On his bread-basket hit him plump.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: bread basket, the stomach; a term used by boxers. I took him a punch in his bread basket; i.e. I gave him a blow in the stomach.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. V 5/2: As I brushed by [...] this elbow went plump into madam’s bread-basket.
[UK]M. & R. Lovell Edgeworth Essays on Irish Bulls 130: I out’s with my bread-earner, and gives it him up to Lamprey in the bread basket.
[UK]J. Poole Hamlet Travestie III vi: I had him there in the bread-basket.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 18: What with clouts on the nob, / Home hits in the bread-basket, clicks in the gob.
[UK]Royal Cornwall Gaz. 27 Apr. 3/1: In the language of the Fancy, I have given him a breadbasketter, i.e. have floored him.
[UK]Devizes & Wilts. Gaz. 21 Aug. 3/4: Sampson stopped a well-meant touch on the bread basket.
[US]N.Y. Enquirer 15 Apr. 2/4: The Pink had got his other peeper closed; he then stood no chance; and after a severe blow in the bread-basket, gave in.
[UK]Marryat Peter Simple (1911) 70: Now that I’ve cured you, you’ll be tucking all that into your own little breadbasket.
[Aus]Sydney Herald 18 June 4/2: I’ll be spiflicated if I wern’t laughing like an undertaker in a black job, till my bread basket ached.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England I 268: I gave him a sly poke in the bread basket.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 11 Oct. 2/5: Scotchie planting his left on Drake’s breadbasket, which floored him.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) I 118: He told Verdant, that his claret had been repeatedly tapped, his bread-basket walked into [...] and his whole person put in chancery.
[UK](con. 1824) Fights for the Championship 70: Langan had but one aim — Spring’s breadbasket.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 17 July 3/2: I [...] delivers my left in the bread panier.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 16 June 4/3: So long as its proceedings are to be connected with the vulgar slang of ‘tater-traps,’ ‘mawleys,’ and ‘bread-baskets,’ it will be impossible for gentlemen to have anything to do with it [i.e. prize-fighting].
[US]Night Side of N.Y. 80: His nose is a ‘conk,’ his chest a ‘bread-basket,’ his mouth a ‘potato-trap’.
[US]Letters by an Odd Boy 102: I butted at him, caught him in what I have since ascertained to be the bread-basket, and knocked him clean over.
[US]Perrysburg Jrnl (OH) 6 May 4/1: A grotesque fancy has named food ‘belly timber’ and its receptacle the ‘bread-basket’.
[US]A. Garcia Tough Trip Through Paradise (1977) 75: I [...] proudly entered the arena of pugilism by landing several underhand swings in his bread basket.
[UK]Sporting Times 27 Feb. 5/4: The Diplomat led off [...] fetching his own second a fearful slog in the bread basket.
[UK]H. O’Reilly Fifty Years on the Trail 169: I planted him one in the ‘bread basket’.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 20 Sept. 2/1: Mrs. F. jabbed him in the bread basket with a box-iron.
[UK]J. Astley Fifty Years (2nd edn) II 272: The sensitive sympathy existing [...] between the bread-basket [...] and the digital organs.
[US]H.E. Hamblen Yarns of Bucko Mate 102: So, swinging the old horse-pistol round my head, I [...] threw it with all my might. It hit him fairly in the bread basket.
[US]C. M’Govern Sarjint Larry an’ Frinds 35: I swear be de saints if yez don’t be gettin’ a wiggle on ye Oi’ll be afhter jabbing me fist in de middle of yer bread-basket.
[UK]D. Stewart Shadows of the Night in Illus. Police News 24 Aug. 12/1: ‘[B]lowed if I don’t stick this knife in your bread-basket’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 27 Dec. 1/7: In round six [Tommy] Burns pummelled his man on the breadbasket. [Jack] Johnson was soon in the ascendant again.
[US]‘Sing Sing No. 57,700’ My View on Books in N.Y. Times Mag. 21 May 7/5: We’d like to have been able to hand him a few swift swats in the breadbasket.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Dec. 41/2: William hasn’t landed the Australian trapper one in the breadbasket, after all.
[Ire]Joyce Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 9: Sick in your breadbasket, Fleming said, because your face looks white.
[UK]P. MacGill The Great Push 114: ‘I’ll make yer laugh,’ I said to ’im, and shoved my bayonet at ’is bread basket.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 26 Oct. [synd. col.] They yelled such epithets [...] as these: ‘Poke him in the bread basket, you frog eater!’ ‘Slap him in the slats.’.
[US]G. Milburn ‘De Night Before Christmas’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 259: Poor Slim and Canary and Idaho Dick / With breadbaskets empty was feelin’ some sick.
[UK]J. Campbell Babe is Wise 299: I’m one of those fleshy blighters who believe in lining the old bread-basket at regular intervals.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 18: We were given the bum’s rush [...] our breadbaskets empty and our nerves jumping.
[UK]I. & P. Opie Lore and Lang. of Schoolchildren (1977) 175: His stomach is his ‘breadbasket’.
[US]G. Cuomo Among Thieves 9: What’smatter? The old breadbasket getting empty?
[UK](con. 1930s) D. Wells Night People 93: The waiter would be standing in the corner digging me, holding his bread-basket (stomach) and frowning.
[US]C. Heath A-Team 2 (1984) 74: Then maybe you pump a couple rounds into my breadbasket.
[UK]A. Higgins Donkey’s Years 149: Whereupon the Razz [...] laid the fellow out with an almighty haymaker in the breadbasket.
bread box (n.)

1. (US) the stomach.

[US]Twelfth Infantry 115: Only to come out needing another hitch in the region of the bread-box and a chest-developer to hold his shoulders back [HDAS].
[US]Will Weldon ‘Blues Everywhere I Go’ [lyrics] And the blues in my bread box / Because my bread is done gone stale / Well well so I’ve blues in my meal barrel.

2. in fig. use.

[UK]Chesterfield Advertiser 2 Dec. 2/1: Another bill preventing teh advertising of whisky in the newspapers [...] hits the newspapers in the breadbox.

3. (US Und.) a safe that can be opened easily.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

4. the vagina.

[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 80: How the hell can you really swing if you’re wondering whether the last thing in her bread box might have been an eight-inch chocolate eclair ... with mold.

5. (US) a small car.

[US]J. Stahl Plainclothes Naked (2002) 34: It’s gonna be work getting that ass in this bread box.
bread-cutter (n.) (also bread-cracker, -grinder)

(US) a tooth.

[US] in DARE I 369/1: Bread cutter n Also bread cracker, – grinder joc A tooth.
breadearner (n.)

(Irish) a knife, as used by a shoeblack.

[UK]M. & R. Lovell Edgeworth Essays on Irish Bulls 130: I out’s with my bread-earner, and gives it him up to Lamprey in the bread basket.
breadfruit swapper/swopper (n.) [such a person is forced to barter rather than pay for goods]

(W.I., Bdos) a very poor person.

[WI]F. Collymore Notes for Gloss. of Barbadian Dial. 21: Breadfruit-swopper. A cheap, ordinary sort of person.
Alex PummaTheGnome [Internet] Favorite-Insults: Flipwreck / breadfruit swapper / double bag and stumper.
bread hooks (n.)

1. (US) the hands.

[US]Portage Sentinel (Ravenna, OH) 7 Jan. 1/1: ‘Hold on,’ says I, and Hetty let in her breadhooks like the gripe of death to a dead nigger.
[US]Spirit of the Age (Woodstock, VT) 2 June 3/3: Woe! to the bridegroom if neighbor Pitkin gets his bread-hooks fastened on him.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 6 Nov. 4/4: Officer Brown [...] presenting his ‘bull dog’, ordered the man to throw up his ‘bread hooks’.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 1 June 14/3: Before Goli could get his bread hooks on Dave the thing was over.
[US]Spokane Press (WA) 24 Dec. 4/6: You’ve heard the song Sousa wrote: / ‘The Hands Across the Sea.’ / He must have meant Big Wilhelm’s mitt / And the bread hooks of Tedd-ee.
[UK]D. Lowrie My Life in Prison 141: Let’s see y’r breadhooks, kid.
Bisbee Dly Rev. 17 Nov. 5/3: Mr Celmars rudely jammed one of his bread hooks in the general direction of the Dynamite boy’s face.
[US] in DARE.
(con. 1950s) ‘Sl. of the 1950s’ ASD Online (Anchorage, AK) [Internet] bread hooks hands.

2. a fingernail.

[US](con. 1945) G. Forbes Goodbye to Some (1963) 124: Barker has again grown an inch-long nail [...] So he delivers a few indefinite threats and sends him off to clean his arms and cut off the ‘breadhook’.
bread room (n.)

the stomach.

[UK]Smollett Sir Launcelot Greaves II 89: He ordered the waiter [...] to bear a hand, ship his oars, mind his helm, and bring alongside a short allowance of brandy or grog, that he might cant a slug into his bread-room.
breadsnapper (n.) (also breadsnatcher) [lit. ‘a child who can eat their weight in groceries’]

(Scot., Glasgow/Irish/US) a child.

[UK](con. 1920s) McArthur & Long No Mean City 4: ‘There’ll be nae more bread-snappers if I can help it,’ he resolved grimly. ‘Kids are all very well for a woman, but they’re a bliddy nuisance to a man.’.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 154: I remembered the people upstairs had five bread-snappers.
C. Macafee Glasgow 103: So that Mither cud be here tae greet ye instead of helpin’ to bring another breadsnapper intae the world.
[US]Joint 484: BREAD SNATCHERS. An affectionate term describing a prisoner's children or the children of his friends.
[Ire]A. Roberts Rasherhouse 23: ‘Ahh, a bread snapper, ah God help ya. How old?’ [...] ‘Six months.’ .
at www.golfonline.com 4 Sept. [Internet] At least, it might be [enjoyable] if there wasn’t a gaggle of little breadsnatchers waddling along behind. What you actually get is a cramped flying RV, filled with other people’s snot-ridden whining brats (and your own).
C.J. Wilson Double Mountain Crossing [ebook] I ain’t taken no lip from a woman since I was a bread snapper, and I ain’t about to start now.
bread trap (n.) [SE trap/trap n.1 (5)]

(US) the mouth.

F. Colburn Adams Our World [Internet] Shut up yer black bread-trap, and don’t go makin a fuss.
[US]V.C. Giles Rags and Hope in Lasswell (1961) 99: Oh, close your bread trap and give us a rest.
Cambridge Rev. 25 Feb. 254/1: [He] plantecd left and right with good effect on the bread-trap and peepers.
A. Kivi Seven Brothers 339: Let Timo keep his bread-trap shut.
[Aus](con. 1928) S. Gore Holy Smoke 47: Around the edge of his breadtrap.
breadwinner (n.)

1. (UK Und.) a knife.

[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce (1891) 325: If I have to whip out the ‘breadwinner,’ I’ll be allowed something handsome over and above, see if I won’t.

2. the vagina [viewed as a commercial commodity].

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

In phrases