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Used as an adjective, bread-and-butter is hyphenated. This expression has various meanings:

  • providing for the basic necessities of life
    • I hope to succeed as a writer; selling shoes is just my bread-and-butter job.
  • basic; vital or essential
    • In the Speech from the Throne, the Governor General of Canada spoke of bread-and-butter issues such as jobs and housing.
  • solid, dependable
    • As the highest scorer, Sarah has been the bread-and-butter player for her team this year.
    • Sales from the company’s bread-and-butter products helped it get through the recession.
  • thank-you (in reference to a note or letter)
    • Mark wrote his cousins a bread-and-butter letter to thank them for their hospitality.