Glossary Home Idioms

The best thing since sliced bread

“The best thing since sliced bread” is an English-language idiom that is used when someone wants to describe something that’s unusually interesting or great.

It’s usually used hyperbolically, suggesting that something is the best thing that’s ever been invented (that is, since sliced bread). It’s thought to have originated in the 1930s when pre-sliced bread was first commercialized.

The best thing since sliced bread meaning and origin


Meaning

The best thing since sliced bread” is an interesting idiom that’s used to describe something that’s unusually great.

The phrase can be applied in a wide variety of situations and is going to be entirely dependent on what the speaker thinks is “great.” The idiom uses “sliced bread” as an example of something that’s great. Despite this, using the idiom does not hinge on one’s opinion on sliced bread. It may have at one point, but today it’s just a part of the saying.

Origins of “The best thing since sliced bread”

It’s thought that the phrase originated in the 1930s when the Continental Baking Company introduced “Wonder Bread,” the first pre-sliced loaf bread. By the end of the decade, pre-sliced bread was commercial and standardized. It was so clearly the right move for the company that after its invention, bread was never the same again.

The idiom was first used in relation to bread and by those who believed in the saying at face value, that is, that sliced bread really was the best invention ever. But, today, the fact that “sliced bread” features in the idiom is not that important.

When to Use the Phrase

It’s possible to use “the best thing since sliced bread” when you’re describing anything that you like a lot. It’s usually used as an exclamation. For example, if you’re surprised by how good something is, you might say this phrase. Or, if you’re trying to argue for the “goodness” of something else, you might use the idiom as a way to support your argument. For example, saying “I don’t agree! This is clearly the best thing since sliced bread.”

Some examples of citations in which one might use this phrase include when someone is using new technology, trying new food, or having any new experience. The idiom fits in these situations because the person using it should have a fresh, positive opinion on the subject.

Example Sentences

  • This phone is the best thing since sliced bread.
  • I can’t believe how well that worked. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.
  • You’re the best thing since sliced bread, in my opinion.
  • If only we could find something that’s better than sliced bread!
  • Everyone always thinks they’ve invented the best thing since sliced bread.
  • Of course, your mom agrees. She thinks you’re the best thing since sliced bread.


Why Do Writers use the Phrase?

Writers use “the best thing since sliced bread” in the same way and for the same reasons that people use it in everyday conversations. The phrase is quite colloquial, meaning that it should be used in informal conversations in which one’s use of language is not under severe judgment. It’s very easy to imagine a wide variety of conversations or descriptions that might be included in a novel using this phrase. Two characters might be talking to one another and use the phrase, or it could be included in a narrator’s description.

It’s important to note that while using idioms has its pros, it also has its cons. Most readers are going to understand what the phrase means, something that can be a benefit. But, since the idiom is so commonly used and well-understood, it’s easily interpreted as cliché. This is certainly not a feature most writers want to be included in their work. There are ways to incorporate it, though. For example, using it sarcastically with the understanding that its cliché.

FAQs

Why do people say “the best thing since sliced bread?”

People use the phrase “the best thing since sliced bread” when they want to emphasize how good something is. It’s usually used hyperbolically, meaning it’s an intentional exaggeration. But, it’s still an effective way to proclaim the importance of a new discovery.

Why was sliced bread such a big deal?

Prior to the pre-sliced Wonder Bread, loaves of bread had to be sliced by the purchaser. This is something that could take time and end up being quite messy. The pre-sliced bread made making sandwiches and other food items easier.

Is “the best thing since sliced bread” an effective idiom?

Some people think that this phrase is a very effective idiom. It can easily be used in a wide variety of situations. But, this also means that it may lose some of its effectiveness. When you say “the best thing since sliced bread” all the time, it loses its punch.


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