What Does Bring Home the Bacon Mean?

Bring Home the Bacon Meaning

Definition: To be the breadwinner of a household.

In this idiom, bacon is the amount of money necessary for a family to live. It is more than just extra spending cash; it must be enough to pay for everything the family needs.

The person who brings it home is the person who leaves the home to go to work and comes back with the necessary amount.

Usually, the expression is used when referring to a single person in the family; rarely do both parents bring home the bacon; if it is the case that both parents work, a different expression is used.

Origin of Bring Home the Bacon

what does the idiom bring home the bacon meanThis expression comes from the early 1900s. At this point in history, it wasn’t uncommon for the man of the family to go out and butcher a pig for the household’s food; after the family has consumed all of the pig’s meat, the fat would be flavoring butter and cakes for months. Pigs were a staple among working class families.

One of the earliest recordings of the idiom can be found in a 1910 edition of The Greenville Times, where, at a minstrel show, the writer says,

  • But it would take too long to name over the songsters who brought home the bacon. They all got a slice.

In 1912, Jack London wrote in his novel, Smoke Bellow,

  • Bring home the bacon, Joe!

Examples of Bring Home the Bacon

meaning of bring home the baconIn the modern day, this idiom is a colloquial way to talk about the person earning the primary salary in a household.

For example,

  • Nowadays, more women are bringing home the bacon than ever before.


  • Sam got a new job, and now he brings home the bacon.

More Examples:

  • The guy who dutifully brought home the bacon for 20 years may be longing to further his education and teach. –The Sun
  • [Trump’s] inaugural speech promises to reverse that selfishness and altruism, to bring back to America jobs, prosperity, greatness, and, implicitly, a way of life in which men were men, brought home the bacon for the wife to cook, cheerfully looking up recipes from Good Housekeeping and other such trusted guides of the homemaker. –The Economic Times


If a person brings home the bacon, he or she earns the primary salary of the household and provides enough money on which to live.