Etymology
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bread (v.)
"to dress with bread crumbs," 1620s, from bread (n.). Related: Breaded; breading.
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loaf (n.)

late 13c., from Old English hlaf "a portion of bread baked in a mass of definite form," from Proto-Germanic *khlaibuz, the common Germanic word for "bread" (source also of Old Norse hleifr, Swedish lev, Old Frisian hlef, Old High German hleib, German Laib, Gothic hlaifs "bread, loaf").

The Germanic root is of uncertain origin; it is perhaps connected to Old English hlifian "to raise higher, tower," on the notion of the bread rising as it bakes, but (according to OED) it is unclear whether "loaf" or "bread" is the original sense. Loaf also is disguised in lord and lady. Finnish leipä, Estonian leip, Old Church Slavonic chlebu, Lithuanian klepas probably are Germanic loan words.

The meaning "chopped meat shaped like a bread loaf" is attested from 1787. The figurative use of loaves and fishes to suggest "religious profession for the sake of personal gain" is from John vi.26.

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loaf (v.)

1835, American English, apparently a back-formation from the earlier-attested loafer (1830). Related: Loafed; loafing. The noun meaning "an act of loafing" is attested from 1855.

The term "loafing" is, of course, very vague. Its meaning, like that of its opposite, "work," depends largely on the user. The highly successful quarterback with an E in Greek is a loafer in his professor's eyes, while the idea of the professor's working, in spite of his voluminous researches on Mycenean Table Manners, would excite hoots of derision from the laborer that lays the drains before his study window. [Yale Literary Magazine, May 1908]
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bread (n.)

"kind of food made from flour or the meal of some grain, kneaded into a dough, fermented, and baked," Old English bread "bit, crumb, morsel; bread," cognate with Old Norse brauð, Danish brød, Old Frisian brad, Middle Dutch brot, Dutch brood, German Brot. According to one theory [Watkins, etc.] from Proto-Germanic *brautham, from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn," in reference to the leavening.

But OED argues at some length for the basic sense being not "cooked food" but "piece of food," and the Old English word deriving from a Proto-Germanic *braudsmon- "fragments, bits" (cognate with Old High German brosma "crumb," Old English breotan "to break in pieces") and being related to the root of break (v.). It cites Slovenian kruh "bread," literally "a piece."

Either way, by c. 1200 it had replaced the usual Old English word for "bread," which was hlaf (see loaf (n.)).

Extended sense of "food, sustenance in general" (late 12c.) is perhaps via the Lord's Prayer. Slang meaning "money" dates from 1940s, but compare breadwinner, and bread as "one's livelihood" dates to 1719. Bread and circuses (1914) is from Latin, in reference to food and entertainment provided by the government to keep the populace content. "Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses" [Juvenal, Sat. x.80].

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bread-basket (n.)

1550s, "basket for holding bread," from bread (n.) + basket (n.). Slang meaning "belly, stomach" is attested from 1753, especially in pugilism. Another slang term for the belly was pudding-house (1590s).

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white bread (n.)
c. 1300, as opposed to darker whole-grain type, from white (adj.) + bread (n.). Its popularity among middle-class America led to the slang adjectival sense of "conventional, bourgeois" (c. 1980). Old English had hwitehlaf.
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monkey-bread (n.)

"fruit of the baobab tree," 1789, from monkey (n.) + bread (n.).

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bread-and-butter (adj.)
"pertaining to basic material needs," from the noun phrase, "one's means of living," 1685, a figurative use of the words for the basic foodstuffs; see bread (n.) + butter (n.). Also, in reference to bread-and-butter as the typical food of young boys and girls, "of the age of growth; school-aged" (1620s).
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torte (n.)

"sweet cake, tart," 1748, from German Torte; earlier sense of "round cake, round bread" (1550s) is from French torte; both are from Late Latin torta "flat cake," also "round loaf of bread" (also source of Italian torte, Spanish torta), probably related to tart (n.1). Not considered to be from the source of tort.

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