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BREAD - Worldwide. HS: Cultural lexicography - Language and Food Prof. Josef Schmied. Definition I (according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3. ed.).

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bread worldwide

BREAD - Worldwide

HS: Cultural lexicography - Language and Food

Prof. Josef Schmied

definition i according to the american heritage dictionary of the english language 3 ed
Definition I(according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3. ed.)
  • A staple food made from flour or meal mixed with other dry and liquid ingredients, usually combined with a leavening agent, and kneaded, shaped into loaves, and baked.
  • a) Food in general, regarded as necessary for sustaining life: “If bread is the first necessity of life, recreation is a close second” (Edward Bellamy).

b) Something that nourishes;


“My bread shall be the

anguish of my mind”

(Edmund Spenser).

  • a) Means of support;

livelihood: earn one's bread.

b) Slang. Money.

definition iii according to easton s 1897 bible dictionary
Definition III(according to Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary)
  • bread

among the Jews was generally made of wheat (Ex. 29:2; Judg. 6:19), though also sometimes of other grains (Gen. 14:18; Judg. 7:13). Parched grain was sometimes used for food without any other preparation (Ruth 2:14). Bread was prepared by kneading in wooden bowls or "kneading troughs" (Gen. 18:6; Ex. 12:34; Jer.7:18). The dough was mixed with leaven and made into thin cakes, round or oval, and then baked. The bread eaten at the Passover was always unleavened (Ex. 12:15-20; Deut. 16:3). […]

The word bread is used figuratively in such expressions as "bread of sorrows“ (Ps. 127:2), "bread of tears" (80:5), i.e., sorrow and tears are like one's daily bread, they form so great a part in life. The bread of "wickedness“ (Prov. 4:17) and "of deceit" (20:17) denote in like manner that wickedness and deceit are a part of the

daily life.

definition iii according to cambridge international dictionary of english
Definition III(according to Cambridge International Dictionary of English)
  • a food made from flour, water and usually yeast mixed together and baked
  • Plural is possible: breads -> meaning different types of bread
linguistic relations
Linguistic relations
  • Homonyms:

bread = food vs. bread = money

ex: I needed some bread so I worked as a waiter.

  • Idioms:

bread and water = the plainest and cheapest possible food

  • Syntagmatic relation:

„Man cannot live by bread alone.“

- saying from the Bible

- the needs of a person‘s spirit must be looked

after as well as those of their body

collocations i
Collocations I
  • bread-and-butter

= concerned with the things that are necessary for life

= sent as thanks for being treated well as someone‘s


  • Bread and circuses

= is used to refr to activities which are designed for

keeping people happy so that they do not ask difficult


  • take the bread out of someone‘s mouth

= to make it impossible for s.o. to earn money, esp. by

taking their work away

collocations ii
Collocations II
  • break bread with (pompous)

= to eat a meal with

  • know which side one‘s bread is buttered

=to know how to make oneself liked by people in power or how to gain their approval; know what is to one‘s advantage

  • breadbasket = an important area for grain production;

= old-fash. stomach

  • bread bin/ box = a container for keeping bread fresh
  • breadboard = a wooden board that is used to cut bread on
  • breadfruit = (a tropical tree that bears) a round fruit that looks and feels like bread when baked
  • breadline = being extremely poor
  • bread sauce = a mixture of milk, bread, onion, and spices
  • breadwinner = a person in a family whose wages provide what the family needs to live on

Genetic classification:



Old Saxon/ Old Low German Old English English


  • Old English
  • derived from the root of brew or connected with the root of break (early uses of bread confined to broken pieces, bits of bread)
  • Until 12th century: hlaf (=loaf) -> generic name for bread
lexical field
Lexical Field





crisp bread



white bread





bread in other languages
Bread in other languages





prototype theory
Prototype Theory













Whole wheat





  • one of the oldest prepared foods
  • dating back to the Neolithic era when cereal grains and water were mixed into a paste and cooked
  • in ancient Egypt bread-making became one of the most significant areas of food preparation, along with the making of beer; both had religious significance as well
  • Egyptians are believed to have invented the first closed oven for use in baking
  • Bread was a primary staple of diet in much of European history, from at least 1000 BC into modern times.
  • Otto Frederick Rohwedder: father of sliced bread

1912 invention of bread slicing machine

1928 invention of slicing and wrapping machine

  • white bread was considered the preferred bread of the rich while the poor ate dark bread
  • Nowadays: dark bread associated with higher nutritional value, white bread connected with low class standards and ignorance of nutrition
bread and the law
Bread and the Law
  • subject of special laws almost everywhere
  • Since medieval times, bakers were subject to regulations which were supposed to protect the consumer
  • Medieval laws:

Austria: liable to fines, imprisonment and even corporal punishment

Turkey: common to hang a baker or two

Egypt: adulteration resulted in nailing the culprit by his ear to the door-post of his shop

France: law prevented bakers from increasing the price of bread beyond a point justified by the price of the raw materials: the price was fixed every week or two

England: "If any default shall be found in the bread of a baker in the city, the first time, let him be drawn upon a hurdle from the Guildhall to his own house through the great street where there be most people assembled, and through the streets which are most dirty, with the faulty loaf hanging from his neck; if a second time he shall be found committing the same offence, let him be drawn from the Guildhall through the great street of Cheepe to the pillory, and let him be put upon the pillory, and remain there at least one hour in the day; and the third time that such default shall be found, be shall be drawn, and the oven shall be pulled down, and the baker made to foreswear the trade in the city for ever."

interesting facts
Interesting Facts
  • Each American consumes, on average, 53 pounds of bread per year.
  • November is National Bread Month in the U.S. due to the celebration of Thanksgiving and the significance of bread in American history, culture and daily diet.
  • Napoleon gave a common bread its name when he demanded a loaf of dark rye bread for his horse during the Prussian campaign. "Pain pour Nicole," he ordered, which meant "Bread for Nicole," his horse. To Germanic ears, the request sounded like "pumpernickel," which is the term we use today for this traditional loaf.
  • In Britain, the ceremony of First Footing is traditionally observed in the early hours of New Year's Day. A piece of bread is left outside a door, with a piece of coal and a silver coin, and is supposed to bring you food, warmth and riches in the year ahead.
  • Scandinavian traditions hold that if a boy and girl eat from the same loaf, they are bound to fall in love.
  • In Russia, bread (and salt) are symbols of welcome.
bread superstitions
Bread Superstitions
  • Whoever eats the last piece of bread has to kiss the cook
  • It is bad luck to turn a loaf of bread upside down or cut an unbaked loaf
  • If you burn bread it means your sweetheart is angry with you
  • To prevent ghosts from calling, leave bread and coffee under a house
  • Eating bread baked by a woman whose maiden name is the same as her married name is a cure for many illnesses
  • If all the bread is eaten, the next day will be good
  • If you put a piece of bread in a baby's cradle, it will keep away disease
  • Cutting bread in an uneven manner is a sign that you have been telling lies
  • When a couple is walking down the street holding hands and an obstacle comes between them, say "bread and butter" to keep the union until the hands meet again
  • A loaf of bread should never be turned upside down after a slice has been cut from it
There is a band called „Bread“.


  • In St. Petersburg exists a bread museum.


  • TV-Show in Germany: „Bernd das Brot“
  • German Hip Hop Group: „Fettes Brot“
  • Soukhanov, Anne H. (ed.) (1992):The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3. ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Procter, Paul (ed.) (2001): Cambridge International Dictionary of English. Cambridge: University Press.
  • Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary