Etymology
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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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bread (v.)
"to dress with bread crumbs," 1620s, from bread (n.). Related: Breaded; breading.
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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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butter (v.)
Old English buterian "spread butter on," from the same source as butter (n.). Figurative meaning "to flatter lavishly" is by 1798 (with up (adv.), in Connelly's Spanish-English dictionary, p.413). Related: Buttered; buttering. To know which side one's bread is buttered on is to be able to take care of oneself.
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butter (n.)
Old English butere "butter, the fatty part of milk," obtained from cream by churning, general West Germanic (compare Old Frisian, Old High German butera, German Butter, Dutch boter), an early loan-word from Latin butyrum "butter" (source of Italian burro, Old French burre, French beurre), from Greek boutyron. This is apparently "cow-cheese," from bous "ox, cow" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow") + tyros "cheese" (from PIE root *teue- "to swell"); but this might be a folk etymology of a Scythian word.

The product was used from an early date in India, Iran and northern Europe, but not in ancient Greece and Rome. Herodotus described it (along with cannabis) among the oddities of the Scythians. In old chemistry, applied to certain substances of buttery consistency. Butter-knife attested from 1818.
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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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butter-fingered (adj.)
"clumsy in the use of the hands, apt to let things fall," 1610s, from butter (n.) + finger (n.).
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