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be/live on the breadline

  (British & Australian)
to be very poor
Usage notes: In America, breadlines were very poor people standing in a line waiting for free food provided by the government.
Most families of the unemployed are on the breadline. How many elderly people in Britain are living on the breadline?
See also: breadline, on

below the breadline

Extremely poor.
See also: below, breadline

on the breadline

Dependent on public donations of food.
See also: breadline, on