bread (v.) Look up bread at Dictionary.com
"to dress with bread crumbs," 1727, from bread (n.). Related: Breaded; breading.
bread-basket (n.) Look up bread-basket at Dictionary.com
1550s, "basket for holding bread," from bread (n.) + basket. Slang meaning "stomach" is attested from 1753, especially in pugilism.
breadth (n.) Look up breadth at Dictionary.com
1520s, alteration of brede "breadth," from Old English brædu "breadth, width, extent," from bræd; probably by analogy of long/length.
breadwinner (n.) Look up breadwinner at Dictionary.com
also bread-winner, "one who supplies a living for others, especially a family," 1821, from the noun bread (probably in a literal sense) + winner, from win (v.) in its sense of "struggle for, work at." Attested slightly earlier (1818) in sense "skill or art by which one makes a living." Not too far removed from the image at the root of lord (n.).
break (v.) Look up break at Dictionary.com
Old English brecan "to break, shatter, burst; injure, violate, destroy, curtail; break into, rush into; burst forth, spring out; subdue, tame" (class IV strong verb; past tense bræc, past participle brocen), from Proto-Germanic *brekan (source also of Old Frisian breka, Dutch breken, Old High German brehhan, German brechen, Gothic brikan), from PIE root *bhreg- "to break" (see fraction). Most modern senses were in Old English. In reference to the heart from early 13c. Meaning "to disclose" is from early 13c.

Break bread "share food" (with) is from late 14c. Break the ice is c. 1600, in reference to the "coldness" of encounters of strangers. Break wind first attested 1550s. To break (something) out (1890s) probably is an image from dock work, of freeing cargo before unloading it. The ironic theatrical good luck formula break a leg (by 1948, said to be from at least 1920s) has parallels in German Hals- und Beinbruch "break your neck and leg," and Italian in bocca al lupo. Evidence of a highly superstitious craft (see Macbeth). According to Farmer & Henley, in 17c. the expression was used euphemistically, of a woman, "to have a bastard."
break (n.) Look up break at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "act of breaking," from break (v.). Sense of "short interval between spells of work" (originally between lessons at school) is from 1861. Meaning "stroke of luck" is attested by 1911, probably an image from billiards (where the break that starts the game is attested from 1865). Meaning "stroke of mercy" is from 1914. Musical sense, "improvised passage, solo" is attested from 1920s in jazz.
break dancing (n.) Look up break dancing at Dictionary.com
1982, but the style itself evolved late 1970s in South Bronx. The reference is to the rhythmic break in a pop-dance song (see break (n.)), which the DJs isolated and the dancers performed to. Breakdown "a riotous dance, in the style of the negroes" is recorded from 1864.
breakable (adj.) Look up breakable at Dictionary.com
1560s, from break (v.) + -able. As a noun, breakables is attested from 1820.
breakage (n.) Look up breakage at Dictionary.com
1813, "action of breaking," from break (v.) + -age. Meaning "loss or damage done by breaking" is from 1848.
breakaway Look up breakaway at Dictionary.com
1906 (n.), in reference to sports; 1930s (adj.) in reference to splinter groups; from break (v.) + away (adv.).
breakdown (n.) Look up breakdown at Dictionary.com
"a collapse," 1832, from break (v.) + down (adv.). The verbal phrase is attested from late 14c. The noun, specifically of machinery, is from 1838; meaning "an analysis in detail" is from 1936. Nervous breakdown is from 1905.
breaker (n.) Look up breaker at Dictionary.com
"heavy ocean wave," 1680s, agent noun from break (v.). Related: Breakers.
breakeven (adj.) Look up breakeven at Dictionary.com
also break-even; usually with point, 1938, from break (v.) + even (adv.). The verbal phrase in the financial sense is recorded from 1914.
breakfast (n.) Look up breakfast at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from break (v.) + fast (n.). For vowel shift, see met (v.). An Old English word for it was undernmete (see undern), also morgenmete "morning meal.". The verb is recorded from 1670s. Related: Breakfasted; breakfasting.

Spanish almuerzo "lunch," but formerly and still locally "breakfast," is from Latin admorsus, past participle of admordere "to bite into," from ad "to" + mordere "to bite." German Frühstück is from Middle High German vruostücke, literally "early bit."

In common with almuerzo, words for "breakfast" tend over time to shift in meaning toward "lunch;" compare French déjeuner "breakfast," later "lunch" (cognate of Spanish desayuno "breakfast"), from Vulgar Latin *disieiunare "to breakfast," from Latin dis- "apart, in a different direction from" + ieiunare, jejunare "fast" (see jejune; also compare dine). Greek ariston in Homer and Herodotus was a meal at the break of day but in classical times taken in the afternoon.
breakneck (adj.) Look up breakneck at Dictionary.com
1560s, "likely to end in a broken neck," from break (v.) + neck (n.).
breakout (n.) Look up breakout at Dictionary.com
1820, from break (v.) + out (adv.). The verbal phrase goes back to Old English ut brecan, utabrecan. Transitive sense is attested from 1610s.
breakthrough (n.) Look up breakthrough at Dictionary.com
1918, in a military sense, from break (v.) + through (adv.). The verbal phrase is attested from c. 1400. Meaning "abrupt solution or progress" is from 1930s, on the notion of a successful attack.
breakup (n.) Look up breakup at Dictionary.com
also break-up, 1795, from verbal expression break up (mid-15c.), which was used originally of plowland, later of groups, assemblies, etc. Of things (also of marriages, relationships), "to disintegrate," from mid-18c. See break (v.) + up (adv.). Break it up as a command to stop a fight, etc., is recorded from 1936.
breakwater (n.) Look up breakwater at Dictionary.com
1721, from break (v.) + water (n.1).
bream (n.) Look up bream at Dictionary.com
freshwater fish, late 14c., from Old French braisme "bream," from Frankish *brahsima, from West Germanic *brahsm- (compare Old High German brahsima), perhaps from Proto-Germanic base *brehwan "to shine, glitter, sparkle," from PIE *bherek- (see braid (v.)).
breast (n.) Look up breast at Dictionary.com
Old English breost "breast, bosom; mind, thought, disposition," from Proto-Germanic *breustam "breast" (source also of Old Saxon briost, Old Frisian briast, Old Norse brjost, Dutch borst, German brust, Gothic brusts), perhaps literally "swelling" and from PIE root *bhreus- "to swell, sprout" (source also of Middle Irish bruasach "having a broad, strong chest," Old Irish bruinne "breast"). The spelling conforms to the Scottish and northern England dialectal pronunciation. Figurative sense of "seat of the emotions" was in Old English.
breastbone (n.) Look up breastbone at Dictionary.com
"sternum," Old English breostban; see breast (n.) + bone (n.).
breastwork (n.) Look up breastwork at Dictionary.com
"fieldwork thrown up breast-high for defense," 1640s, from breast (n.) + work (n.) in "fortification" sense. Old English had breostweall in same sense.
breath (n.) Look up breath at Dictionary.com
Old English bræð "odor, scent, stink, exhalation, vapor" (Old English word for "air exhaled from the lungs" was æðm), from Proto-Germanic *bræthaz "smell, exhalation" (source also of Old High German bradam, German Brodem "breath, steam"), from PIE root *gwhre- "to breathe, smell."
breathalyzer (n.) Look up breathalyzer at Dictionary.com
1960, from breath + (an)alyzer; an earlier name for it was drunkometer (1934).
breathe (v.) Look up breathe at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, not in Old English, but it retains the original Old English vowel of its source word, breath. Related: Breathed; breathing.
breather (n.) Look up breather at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, "a living creature, one who breathes," agent noun from breathe. Meaning "spell of exercise to stimulate breathing" is from 1836; that of "a rest to recover breath" is from 1901.
breathless (adj.) Look up breathless at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "unable to breathe," from breath + -less. Meaning "out of breath, panting" is from mid-15c. Used from 1590s in the sense "dead." Meaning "forgetting to breathe due to excitement, awe, anticipation, etc." is recorded from 1802. Related: Breathlessly; breathlessness.
breathtaking (adj.) Look up breathtaking at Dictionary.com
1867, from breath + present participle of take (v.). Phrase to take (one's) breath away with astonishment or delight is from 1864. Breathtaking (n.) "act of taking breaths or a breath" is from 1620s. Related: Breathtakingly.
breathy (adj.) Look up breathy at Dictionary.com
1520s, "pertaining to breath," from breath + -y (2). Of voices, "full of breath," from 1883. Related: Breathily; breathiness.
breccia (n.) Look up breccia at Dictionary.com
"rock of angular pieces," 1774, from Italian breccia, "marble of angular pieces," from a Germanic source akin to Old High German brecha "a breaking," from Proto-Germanic *brekan, from PIE *bhreg- "to break" (see fraction).
bred (adj.) Look up bred at Dictionary.com
from past tense and past participle of breed (v.).
breech (n.) Look up breech at Dictionary.com
"back part of a gun or firearm," 1570s, from singular of breeches (q.v.).
breeches (n.) Look up breeches at Dictionary.com
c. 1200, a double plural, from Old English brec "breeches," which already was plural of broc "garment for the legs and trunk," from Proto-Germanic *brokiz (source also of Old Norse brok, Dutch broek, Danish brog, Old High German bruoh, German Bruch, obsolete since 18c. except in Swiss dialect), perhaps from PIE root *bhreg- (see break (v.)). The Proto-Germanic word is a parallel form to Celtic *bracca, source (via Gaulish) of Latin braca (aource of French braies), and some propose that the Germanic word group is borrowed from Gallo-Latin, others that the Celtic was from Germanic.

Expanded sense of "part of the body covered by breeches, posterior" led to senses in childbirthing (1670s) and gunnery ("the part of a firearm behind the bore," 1570s). As the popular word for "trousers" in English, displaced in U.S. c. 1840 by pants. The Breeches Bible (Geneva Bible of 1560) so called on account of rendition of Genesis iii.7 (already in Wyclif) "They sewed figge leaues together, and made themselues breeches."
breed (n.) Look up breed at Dictionary.com
"race, lineage, stock" (originally of animals), 1550s, from breed (v.). Of persons, from 1590s. Meaning "kind, species" is from 1580s.
breed (v.) Look up breed at Dictionary.com
Old English bredan "bring young to birth, carry," also "cherish, keep warm," from West Germanic *brodjan (source also of Old High German bruoten, German brüten "to brood, hatch"), from *brod- "fetus, hatchling," from PIE *bhreue- "burn, heat" (see brood (n.)). Original notion of the word was incubation, warming to hatch. Sense of "grow up, be reared" (in a clan, etc.) is late 14c. Related: Bred; breeding.
breeder (n.) Look up breeder at Dictionary.com
1570s, "one who produces or originates," agent noun from breed (v.). Meaning "one who breeds cattle" or some other animal is recorded from 1530s. Of nuclear reactors, from 1948. As a scornful homosexual term for "heterosexual person," attested from 1986.
breeding (n.) Look up breeding at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "hatching, incubation;" also "formation, development, growth," verbal noun from breed (v.). Meaning "good manners" is from 1590s.
breeze (v.) Look up breeze at Dictionary.com
"move briskly," 1904, from breeze (n.). Related: Breezed; breezing.
breeze (n.) Look up breeze at Dictionary.com
1560s, "north or northeast wind," from Old Spanish briza "cold northeast wind;" in West Indies and Spanish Main, the sense shifting to "northeast trade wind," then "fresh wind from the sea." English sense of "gentle or light wind" is from 1620s. An alternative possibility is that the English word is from East Frisian brisen "to blow fresh and strong." The slang for "something easy" is American English, c. 1928.
breezeway (n.) Look up breezeway at Dictionary.com
1904, American English, from breeze (n.) + way (n.).
breezy (adj.) Look up breezy at Dictionary.com
1718, from breeze (n.) + -y (2). Figurative sense "fresh, easygoing, light, airy" is from 1870. Related: Breezily; breeziness.
brekekekex Look up brekekekex at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, from Greek (Aristophanes), echoic of the croaking of frogs.
Bremen Look up Bremen at Dictionary.com
city in Germany, from Old Saxon bremo "edge" (related to English brim (n.)), in reference to its site on a river bank.
Bren Look up Bren at Dictionary.com
type of machine gun used by the British army in World War II, 1937, short for Bren gun, coined from first letters of Brno, Czechoslovakia, and Enfield, near London. The patent was purchased in Brno, and the gun was manufactured in Enfield.
Brenner Pass Look up Brenner Pass at Dictionary.com
historical route over the Alps between Germany and Italy, from Breuni, name of a people who lived near there, perhaps Celtic.
brer Look up brer at Dictionary.com
in Brer Rabbit, etc., 1881, Joel Chandler Harris' representation of U.S. Southern black pronunciation of brother.
Brest Look up Brest at Dictionary.com
city in France, from Celtic, from bre "hill." The city in Belarus is from Slavic berest "elm." Part of Lithuania from 1319, it thus was known, for purposes of distinguishing them, as Brest Litovsk until 1921.
brethren (n.) Look up brethren at Dictionary.com
alternative plural of brother (q.v.); predominant c. 1200-1600s, but surviving now only in religious usage.
Breton (n.) Look up Breton at Dictionary.com
"native or language of Brittany," late 14c., from French form of Briton (q.v.).