Mar 30, 2010

Bring Home the Bacon

To earn money, especially money for one's family; to be successful, especially financially successful.

The origin of the phrase 'bring home the bacon' is sometimes suggested to be the story of the Dunmow Flitch. This tradition, which still continues every four years in Great Dunmow, Essex, is based on the story of a local couple who, in 1104, impressed the Prior of Little Dunmow with their marital devotion to the point that he award them a flitch (a side) of bacon. The continuing ritual of couples showing their devotion and winning the prize, to considerable acclimation by the local populace, is old and well authenticated. Geoffrey Chaucer mentions it in The Wife of Bath's Tale and Prologue, from 1395:

    But never for us the flitch of bacon though,
    That some may win in Essex at Dunmow.

The derivation of the phrase is also muddled by association with other bacon expressions, as save one's bacon, chew the fat etc. In reality, the link between them is limited to the fact that bacon has been a slang term for one's body, and by extension one's livelihood or income, since the 17th century.