meal ticket

/ˌmil ˈtɪkɪt/

Other forms: meal tickets

When people talk about a meal ticket, they usually mean a person, thing, or skill that provides income. For example, you might describe your ability to knit cute arm warmers as a possible meal ticket.

If you marry a wealthy person, friends might gossip that you're using her as a meal ticket, but they're just as likely to compliment your jazz piano skill as a meal ticket. The phrase originally meant, literally, a paper coupon that could be redeemed for food. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, young workers often dined using meal tickets that provided a week's work of discounted lunches at restaurants. The figurative meaning came soon after.

Definitions of meal ticket
  1. noun
    coupon redeemable at a restaurant and entitling the holder to a meal
    synonyms: luncheon voucher
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    type of:
    coupon, voucher
    a negotiable certificate that can be detached and redeemed as needed
  2. noun
    a source of income or livelihood
    see moresee less
    type of:
    bread and butter, keep, livelihood, living, support, sustenance
    the financial means whereby one lives
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘meal ticket'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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