Bring Home the Bacon

Meanings of “Bring Home the Bacon”

The phrase “bring home the bacon” means to earn money for the family, or succeed in making both ends meet. It is stated for a person who goes out in the morning and brings something for his family in the evening. The phrase is usually used for the breadwinner of the family, someone who is financially successful.

Origin of “Bring Home the Bacon”

The phrase “bring home the bacon” was apparently the story of Dunmow Flitch.  Geoffrey Chaucer talks about it in  The Wife of Bath’s Tale published as back as in 1395 where it goes “But never for us the flitch of bacon though. That some may win in Essex at Dunmow.” However, its full version has been traced to The Oakland Tribune used in its October 1906 publication. It goes thus; “Kaufmann will bring home the bacon.”

The phrase is also confused with other expressions of bacon like ‘cold shoulder’, ‘save one’s bacon’, ‘chew the fat’ etc. The truth is that the phrase is in no way connected to these expressions.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Bring Home The Bacon by Marites C. Cayetano

To my country
I promised
to bring home
the bacon.

And yes, I did
I did bring home
the bacon.

But to my surprise
the bacon vanished
so instantly.

Oh, my beloved country
forgive this unworthy
child of yours
I wasn’t able
to bring home
sufficient bacon
for all your children.

The poet talks about his role in his country that is to earn something that people should enjoy. After stating that he has performed his responsibility when he comes to know that so many people are still hungry, he apologizes that he did not bring enough to satisfy all his children.  That is the reason he uses this phrase in the first two stanzas and plays it in the last stanza. Meanings are almost the same in all the stanzas.

Example #2

Bringing Home the Bacon by Procol Harum

Bringing home the bacon
Tender juicy steaks
Breast-fed baby dumpling
Gobbling up the cakes

Milk-fed baby dumpling
Slobbering, goo-faced, mean
Wet-nursed sour purse spot face
Blubbering in the cream

Emperor baby dumpling
Loaded, bloated curse
Mighty baby dumpling
Stuffing ’til he bursts

The above lines are taken from the lyric and have a direct meaning, which is a food ingredient. The singer combined the simple phrase to explain the luxurious lives of the modern people when they have everything to eat from juicy steaks to cakes and cream. The meanings of this phrase seem ironic that now almost no one can afford good or expensive food.

Example #3

Cat, Tarzan and the Degenerated Idiots by Michel Montecrossa

“Even the soaps?” Cat asked and Jane laughed:
“You won’t even have to watch reruns anymore.”
Then Tarzan tuned it: “God, you really are couch potatoes.
You burst your butts all day in a crummy rocket
To bring home the bacon and then veg in front of me”
“Let’s go to the, gasworks’”, Cat said to Jane.

In this stanza, he presents the conversation among the Cat, Jane, and Tarzan. Tarzan tells Jane and the cat that they are lazy. He always brings home the bacon, which means he gets the food, and the others just eat and watch TV. To Tarzan’s dismay, the Cat tells Jane to come with her to the power station.

Example #4

The Words and Music of Frank Zappa by Kelly Fisher Lowe

Virginia Slims cigarettes were making the same sort of argument, as was Enjoli perfume, which used as its advertising jingle. “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re my man.” The idea behind this jingle was that women could enter the so-called male sphere (bring home the bacon) and yet remain both sexy and desirable. It is problematic but vastly different from the fifties.

This paragraph tells us about Frank Zappa’s great composition of Enjoli perfume that has an idea that a woman, who shoulders the responsibility of earning, does not seem good looking. In other words, it means that a woman who takes up the responsibility of earning a livelihood loses her femininity. The meanings of the phrase become clear that it means to earn for the family.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Matthew works very hard as he is trying to bring home the bacon. His wife and children are helping with his work too.”

Example #2: “John is sad as no one recognizes his toiling while he is working to bring home the bacon.”

Example #3: “When I saw him last time, he was working on his farm during the drought. It was his last effort to bring home the bacon.”

Example #4: “Theodore was not in the house when his father and police came. It was dark outside as well as inside. The neighbor next door told them that Theodore was working day and night to bring home the bacon.”

Example #5: “Don’t be filled with pride when you are bringing home the bacon. It’s never enough. You have to work hard continuously and save for the future.