on the breadline


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on the breadline

Extremely 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 in the United States, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries. If I don't make a big sale this week, my family will be on the breadline in no time. My grandmother was on the breadline throughout her childhood, so she doesn't have much patience for kids complaining about what latest gadget their missing out on.
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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

on the breadline

Dependent on public donations of food.
See also: breadline, on
References in periodicals archive ?
W ORK and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has insisted he knows what is like to be on the breadline as he dismissed a petition calling for him to live on PS53 a week as a "complete stunt".
PS100 Letter YOUR report on Nurses on the Breadline brought it home to me just how much they devote their lives to taking care of the rest of us.
Tina Gibbs, Douglas, Lanarkshire THE plight of nurses on the breadline and suffering from stress-related illnesses highlighted the devastating impact the Coalition's policies are having on our public services.
LIFE is stressful on the breadline and there's little to look forward to.
More than a quarter of people in Wales are living on the breadline, according to a shocking new study.
The figures show that in 2000, inner Liverpool had a higher percentage of people on the breadline than any provincial city in England.