In my country, the term breadwinner is widely used. However, several years ago, if I remember it correctly, some TV personality said that the term breadwinner is not anymore the usual term to call a person who primarily earns for the family. If this word is not widely accepted nowadays, what word would be rather used?

  • I think you are from the Philippines. Dear, if it is perfectly understandable here in in our country, I see no reason why choosing another term would be more proper.
    – gelolopez
    Dec 16, 2013 at 7:15
  • Hi @gelolopez. Yes, you're right. However, I am not too sure of the word's popularity here in our country. :) Dec 16, 2013 at 8:01
  • It is quite obvious. Professionals in our country use the word to describe themselves as the primary, if not the only, earner of the household. Using breadwinner provides no confusion so there is no problem in using it.
    – gelolopez
    Dec 16, 2013 at 8:03
  • Actually, without hearing it on TV, I would stick with breadwinner. I am just asking if there is a newly used word nowadays, not just here in our country, but also in other English-speaking countries. Thanks for commenting, though. Dec 16, 2013 at 8:12

2 Answers 2


As Michael said, breadwinner is alive and well in British English. In American English, breadwinner (though still right up there) is falling in use (less than half the British use, and falling; if you use the Ngram, extend to 2013). The word is being replaced by "primary wage earner".

Quite a hubbub was created here recently when a Pew study showed that in 40% of households, women are the primary wage earners.

  • 1
    I've deleted my answer (and changed the default range on my Ngram Viewer), but it does show a similar drop in the use of 'breadwinner' in UK usage as well. Dec 16, 2013 at 2:19

The Pew Research study mentioned in another answer is titled (ironically enough), "Breadwinner Moms." I would agree another answer that the demise of breadwinner is exaggerated.

While COCA does seem to show that the use of breadwinner has tailed off somewhat in recent years, charting breadwinner vs primary wage earner in Google Ngrams for American English shows that breadwinner is still used much more frequently.

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