DEFINITION of 'Breadwinner'

The primary, or sole, income earner in a household. Breadwinners, by contributing the largest portion of household income, generally cover most household expenses and financially support their dependents.

BREAKING DOWN 'Breadwinner'

The term breadwinner is most often used to refer to single income families in which one of the members works to generate income and the other stays at home to care for dependents. The term is based on the word "bread", which is slang for money.