Beyond the dictionary – how words change over time: bread

Posted: July 23, 2014 in beyond the dictionary
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m starting a new category focusing on words. “Beyond the Dictionary” will look at how the usage and meaning of common words change over time. Today’s word is “bread”.

Form of food prepared by baking or frying dough made from a ground grain. Can be leavened or unleavened, flat or in a loaf. Today there are hundreds of types of bread catering to all tastes.

At one point in history, bread was known as the “staff of life”. It was an important staple of most Western civilization’s diets. In some it became a form of currency (or the ingredients did). Hence the slang use of bread to mean cash. This is no longer in common usage. However the compound noun, breadwinner, is still in use. Thus the slang definition of bread lives on in “One who earns a living for his/her dependants”.

Bonus word: Loaf

 A form that bread can take. Also a synonym meaning to spend time idly. And morphed into a noun, loafer, meaning a casual shoe! (or as a verb a “loafer” is one who loafs!)

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