The staff of life! OED affirms that it’s but meal and moisture, kneaded and baked. The word comes from roots meaning “bit” or “piece” or “morsel”.
Before 1200 bread had quite displaced hláf as the name of the substance, leaving to the latter the sense ‘loaf’ (an amount, LFSA) which it has since retained. It thus appears that a word originally meaning ‘piece, bit, frustum’, has passed through the senses of ‘piece of bread’, ‘broken bread’, into that of ‘bread’ as a substance; while at the same time the original word for ‘bread, loaf, panis’ has been restricted to the undivided article as shaped and baked, the ‘loaf’. The Lowland Scotch and northern dialect use of piece illustrates anew the first step in this transition, for it is the regular word for a piece of bread, as in ‘give the bairn a piece’,
- 02.116 Now they had bread
- 07.121 and fat again on bread
- 08.145 and after he had got over his thankfulness for bread
- 18.048 and eaten much of your bread.’
“bread, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2016. Web. 18 May 2016.