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be on the breadline

To be very poor, as if one could (or does) rely on food donations to survive. A "breadline" is a line of people seeking food distributed by a charitable or government agency. If I don't make a big sale this week, my family will be on the breadline. Sure, we have money now, but my grandmother grew up in a family that was on the breadline and lived in public housing.
See also: breadline, on

on the breadline

People who are living on the breadline are extremely poor. Too many men have children and then forget about them — leaving the children and the mothers living on the breadline. They should be stripped of everything they own but the bare essentials. Let them feel what it is like to be on the breadline. Note: You can use the breadline to mean a level of income where it is just possible to live. Obviously I'd want to earn enough to keep me above the breadline. Families scraping a living on low incomes and benefits are already living below the breadline. Note: In times of hardship, particularly in the 19th century in the United States, poor people used to line up outside bakeries or soup kitchens for free or very cheap bread.
See also: breadline, on

on the ˈbreadline

very poor: Most of the unemployed in this area are on the breadline.In North America, a breadline was a queue of poor people waiting to receive free food from the government.
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
References in periodicals archive ?
The average worker would be just 32 days from the breadline if their income stopped, while employees in Yorkshire would be 34 days away and those in the north east 33 days away.
Mark Holweger, managing director at Legal & General, said: "While it's heartening to see an improvement in the financial situation of North East households, this fourth edition of our Deadline to the Breadline report exposes the harsh reality that many households in this region are on the brink and just weeks away from becoming reliant upon family, friends or the state.
Because George's breadline was to be a wintertime piece, he outfitted his models (all friends) accordingly.
Not far from that bronze breadline at the FDR memorial, you'll find this inscription of the late president's words: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
Breadline Brummies on Channel 5 will follow single mum-of-five Emma, who split from her partner two weeks ago and must now claim income support.
The figures revealed almost one in five children live in homes with incomes below the breadline while most social assistance benefits to single people are [euro]30 a week less than the required minimum.
00pm The musician investigates the truth about single mothers who receive benefits and asks whether it really is an easy life, or more a case of a living on the breadline.
More than half - 54 per cent - of children in unemployed families in Scotland are living on the breadline, compared with 10 per cent of those in working families.
But with a third of the population not having any money put away, researchers say this could see a significant number of people on the breadline in the event of a financial disaster.
How sickening for those living on the breadline to see David Cameron and George Osbourne, champions of the "we're all in this together" line, splashing the cash.
While such as Derek Simpson castigate the factory owner, a person who has invested everything in industry for the betterment of himself and his workers, they sit in luxury giving workers the impression that they are fighting from the same base breadline.
It is clear that many people who will be affected by this nonsense are already living on the breadline.
SOCIALIST firebrand Rosie Kane didn't have far to go to get inspiration for her acting debut about working on the breadline.
More than a quarter of people in Wales are living on the breadline, according to a shocking new study.
Last year he wasn't a single parent, last year he was in full-time employment, last year he had a partner; this year he is living well below the breadline.