Imagine a person who's been looking for a better hierarchical position in the organization where he works in order to obtain more salary! The day comes and he achieves his favorite position! His colleague (his close friend) comes to him and says:

  • Congratulations! I heard the news and happy for you bro! Your bread is/will be buttered on both sides. (he says humorously, with a smile)

Does the bold sentence above work here or it sounds odd to you?

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    Note that bread always lands buttered side down. So if you drop a piece that is buttered on both sides, it never hits the floor but just just spins slowly inches above it. The same affect can be observed if you strap the buttered bread face up to the back of a cat (which, famously, always land feet first). – Strawberry Apr 26 '19 at 15:51

To want one's bread buttered on both sides is a mainly British English idiom meaning to want to benefit or profit from two opposite or contradictory things, or to want to achieve or gain something without payment or effort, e.g. "Young people these days want their bread buttered on both sides - they want high paying jobs, but they aren't prepared to work for them!" A similar idiom is to want to "have one's cake and eat it". To have one's bread buttered on both sides is an unusual usage, and might well convey the implication that the success was not deserved, or achieved by unfair means, so I would use it with care. It might be acceptable if clearly meant humorously, and said to someone you know well.

Bread buttered on both sides

  • Thank you @Michael Harvey; apparently my suggestion doesn't work here in the sense I was going to utter it! So how shall I convey the message in my question in the manner that it could make sense to both BrE and AmE speakers? – A-friend Apr 26 '19 at 13:19
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    I would take the idiom to poetically mean "No downsides, everything is great". The bread normally has the delicious butter on one side, and is dry on the other, literally good and bad together... A similar idiom is "Knows which way his bread is buttered". Which basically implies savviness or knowing what's good for him. – Ruadhan2300 Apr 26 '19 at 14:12
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    In my language @Ruadhan2300 we say: you have your bread in the butter, where "butter" means "very good finacial conditions" and it metaphorically means that you will enjoy a better situation from now on and the page has been turned already for you. – A-friend Apr 26 '19 at 14:18
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    @A-friend Generally speaking, metaphors don't tend to work well when translated from one language to another, often because customs are different, but also for the same reason that you cannot normally translate poetry - "something gets lost in the translation" – Mike Brockington Apr 26 '19 at 15:48
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    I understand the expression, but, If I'm thinking of it literally, I would never want my bread buttered on both sides. It sounds messy—more of a negative than a positive. So, I'm not quite sure how the particular expression came into existence . . . – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Apr 26 '19 at 16:42

Considering that "bread buttered on both sides" usually refers to benefiting from an impossible condition, then to say that as a congratulation would be a remark about an improbable windfall and "works" in the same way that any other play on an established idiom does. If, as Michael Harvey has noted, there is a chance that the sentence could be viewed as a backhanded compliment, then "every dog has his day" could work if the recipient has been recently unlucky, or "good things come to those who wait" as a more generic congratulation.

EDIT: Added "benefiting from"

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    Actually @JohnnyApplesauce I forgot to write down within the original post that in my language we say: you have your bread in the butter, where "butter" means "very good finacial conditions" and it metaphorically means that you will enjoy a better situation from now on and the page has been turned already for you. So it was why I chose "your bread will be buttered" as it was close to the concept in my question by the appearance. – A-friend Apr 26 '19 at 14:20

Never heard it before, but if you change You're to Your then the meaning is obvious to a native, and reasonably grammatical. (I would go with is rather than will be but its fifty-fifty really.


I completely agree with MichaelHarvey, “to want to benefit ... from two opposite or contradictory things”; and with Mike Brockington's comment on A Friend's translation of a phrase that has another meaning. Johnny Applesauce's informed answer seems to be based on the use in the USA as a reference to a real event, (benefiting from an impossible condition), where the use of 'want your bread buttered on both sides' in English is figurative.

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