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I am trying to answer a question from a library patron who remembers the entire phrase, "bread is" that she and her friends used in the 1960s. She accepts that "bread" was used for money or "dough," another slang word. However she remembers use of the entire phrase, "bread is."

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Hi Cheryl, welcome to ELU. I never heard this "catchphrase" before - perhaps someone else has, but it's a very localised question. –  FumbleFingers Dec 30 '11 at 3:45
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Was the term bread is alone, or was that part of something longer? –  msh210 Dec 30 '11 at 3:48
    
Fwiw, searches for "bread is she|if" and "hey|wow|man bread is he|said" at Google Books yield nothing relevant. –  msh210 Dec 30 '11 at 3:54
    
Vote Reopen : curiosity piqued –  cindi Dec 30 '11 at 16:08
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Just because the phrase is obscure doesn't mean the question is too localized. –  Marthaª Dec 30 '11 at 18:13
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2 Answers

According to my uncle, who was a university student in the 1960s, "bread is" is a shortened form of the old proverb, "Bread is the staff of life."

According to the Facts On File Dictionary of Proverbs, this proverb was first recorded in 1638.

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So you just say 'bread is' to mean 'money'? –  Kris Dec 30 '11 at 6:47
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@Kris No, "bread is" was shorthand for "bread is the staff of life," referring to bread in both the literal (foodstuff) and figurative (money) sense. –  Gnawme Dec 30 '11 at 6:53
    
My old grandma will always say something like nobody is bigger then bread. I guess it is an old Bulgarian proverb. I have heard "The food makes the fight" like a sports proverb. I guess that here bread is indicates that it is bread hat gives you everything as a source of life strength, as it is the juice of life itself, a some sort of nepenthe - an ancient drink for ancient Gods. –  speedyGonzales Dec 30 '11 at 7:41
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I can't come up with a usage of the abbreviated phrase that doesn't sound frankly awful. Can you give an example of actual usage? –  Marthaª Dec 30 '11 at 15:36
    
@Marthaª Many slang terms sound frankly awful out of one's era or generation. ("Word.") According to my uncle, usage went something like: "Well, off to work for The Man." [Rueful shake of the head.] "Well, bread is, brother." –  Gnawme Dec 30 '11 at 17:37
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In early ages of america. Conducting business or providing a service was purely for food, apparently bread. Hence the term bread-winner, also money had been very synonymous to bread, meat or dough. But the bread is doesn't seem to be found much anywhere.

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With today's concluding conversation with my library patron, her focus was upon regarding the phrase "bread is" as she recalls similiar phrases, "love is" and "peace is" with the emphasis on "is" (be) as a statement of existence. Thank you for your comments. –  Cheryl Jan 6 '12 at 23:33
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