phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

The meaning and origin of the expression: White bread

White bread

What's the meaning of the phrase 'White bread'?

Pertaining to the US white middle classes.

What's the origin of the phrase 'White bread'?

This disparaging term refers to the supposed bland and uninteresting nature of white middle class culture in the US. It came into vogue in the 1980s and began to appear in print then; for example, this piece from The New York Times, 1981:

"Vincent... is white bread in a three-piece suit."

George WhitebreadThe term is virtually limited to the USA. In the 1990s the UK comedian Harry Enfield did his own take on 'white bread' when he created the obnoxious stage Yorkshireman George Whitebread - "I'm From Yorkshire. I say what I like and I like what I bloody well say". The comic device was modelled on Barry Humpries' dissolute creation Sir Less Patterson, the Australian 'Cultural Attaché'. Whitebread was a spectacularly unsuitable 'creative director' for an advertising firm.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List