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."

  • Hi Cheryl, welcome to ELU. I never heard this "catchphrase" before - perhaps someone else has, but it's a very localised question. Dec 30, 2011 at 3:45
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    Was the term bread is alone, or was that part of something longer?
    – msh210
    Dec 30, 2011 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, 2011 at 3:54
  • Vote Reopen : curiosity piqued
    – cindi
    Dec 30, 2011 at 16:08
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    Just because the phrase is obscure doesn't mean the question is too localized.
    – Marthaª
    Dec 30, 2011 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


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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    @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, 2011 at 6:53
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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, 2011 at 15:36
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    @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, 2011 at 17:37
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    @Gnawme, the library patron appreciated confirmation that others were familiar with this phrase.
    – Cheryl
    Jan 6, 2012 at 23:30
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    I don't know if it's connected, but Robert A. Heinlein's novel "Stranger in a Strange Land" was pretty popular in the '60s counterculture, and one of its catchphrases was "Waiting is."
    – user888379
    Sep 19, 2016 at 22:11

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