Definition of brass in English:

brass

Line breaks: brass
Pronunciation: /brɑːs
 
/

noun

  • 1 [mass noun] A yellow alloy of copper and zinc: [as modifier]: a brass plate on the door
    More example sentences
    • Bronze is made with tin added to copper and brass has zinc in the alloy.
    • Two of the oldest and most widely used of all alloys, bronze and brass, also contain copper.
    • Some of the more important metal alloys were gold, brass, bronze and pewter.
  • 1.1 [count noun] A decorative object made of brass: shining brasses stood on the mantelpiece
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    • The last side plate is an angular brass specimen decorated with an incised standard.
    • It retains its original brasses, finials, and decorative carving.
    • The dominant decorative feature is the array of ornate brasses with pierced backplates.
  • 1.2 (also horse brass) [count noun] British A round flat brass ornament for the harness of a draught horse.
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    • I'm getting to really like horse brasses; not a new liking, but this time round I'm finding that rummaging through boxes of assorted knick-knacks for them has something of the treasure hunt about it.
    • A handful of rosettes is all the pensioner has left following last Wednesday's raid, where more than 1,000 prizes and certificates were also snatched, along with valuable horse brasses.
    • If we drive in to collect it now I'll be able to catch the post office, mail these horse brasses off to that nice woman in the States, and send your Mother's Day card off Special Delivery.
  • 1.3 [count noun] A memorial, typically a medieval one, consisting of a flat piece of inscribed brass, laid in the floor or set into the wall of a church: children do not appear on memorial brasses until the 1420s
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    • His widow's stone bears a memorial brass inscribed with Latin verses but is otherwise unmarked.
    • Inside fittings again testify to the town's religious life in the Middle Ages, notably the twenty stalls for the members of Chichele College at the east end of the north aisle and an unusual number of medieval monumental brasses.
    • A ‘pudding-basin’ cut, often seen on memorial brasses, shows hair thick but clear of the ears, probably to assist in cushioning the helmet.
  • 1.4 [count noun] A brass block or die used for stamping a design on a book binding.
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    • The collection also features a set of scales from the old factory, and an original brass butter stamp
  • 2 Music Brass wind instruments (including trumpet, horn, and trombone) forming a band or a section of an orchestra: the brass were consistently too loud
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    • The brass section of an orchestra typically consists of trumpets, horns, trombones, and tubas.
    • We harmonize like the brass section of a band, and we need discipline to do that type of music.
    • The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is a noteworthy example, its playing characterized by dark woodwinds and brasses that impart a dreamlike, veiled quality suggesting the mellow patina of old silver.
  • 3 (also top brass) informal People in authority or of high military rank: the top brass of the Jockey Club
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    • After an outcry from the military brass and heavy attacks in the media, he reversed himself two days later.
    • The New York Times reports that, for decades, the military brass has assured the locals that underground storage of these weapons was perfectly safe.
    • A little long winded, but the speech was punctuated with a lot of applause, which suggested that a lot of the military brass in attendance support him.
  • 4British informal Money: they wanted to spend their newly acquired brass
    More example sentences
    • The old pro there kind of takes a liking to the kid, gives him a brass.

Phrases

brassed off

British informal Exasperated: I’m absolutely brassed off with all this talk about economic recovery
More example sentences
  • I got brassed off but then I realised that people were either moved or entertained by listening in and now I'm proud to have been associated with it.
  • If I were a member of the public, I would be really brassed off about all these promises of a new library without it ever becoming a reality.
  • I've never seen so many people and luggage crammed onto one single deck bus, with at least six times as many people stood outside looking brassed off about not getting the bus.

a brass farthing

[with negative] informal Any money or assets at all: she hasn’t got two brass farthings to rub together
More example sentences
  • One advantage of the private sector is that I've been schooled not to spend a brass farthing until we know we can get a return.
  • Not a bean, not a brass farthing, have I added to my original donation.
  • The inheritance is almost gone now, since she never invested a brass farthing.

brass monkey

British informal Used in phrases to refer to extremely cold weather: it’s brass monkey weather tonight it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey
[often said to be from a type of brass rack or ‘monkey’ once used to stack cannonballs on ships, and from which the balls might be ejected as a result of the metal contracting in very cold weather; this explanation has not been proved]
More example sentences
  • Similarly, pack your thermals, because it's colder than a brass monkey's ice lolly.
  • Actually the weather today is much milder than yesterday when it was cold enough to freeze the spheres off a brass monkey (an old sea-faring expression).
  • It got cold on the gun decks and the indentations in the brass monkey would get smaller than the iron cannonballs they were holding.

brass neck

informal Cheek or effrontery: I didn’t think that his mother would have the brass neck to come round here
More example sentences
  • And politicians have the impertinence, not to mention the brass neck, to continue to wonder why the public is disillusioned with them.
  • Dozens of fleet-fingered axe heroes from around the country have left their bedroom mirrors behind to participate in the Scottish heat of a competition that requires more brass neck than bottleneck, more histrionics than electronics.
  • Freeloaders and hangers-on from the union's various committees have been a fact of life on away trips with Scotland for a long time and at times their brass neck had to be seen to be appreciated.

the brass ring

North American informal Success or reward: Willa went for the brass ring, joining the firm’s San Francisco office at a whopping salary
[with reference to the reward of a free ride given on a merry-go-round to the person hooking a brass ring suspended over the horses]
More example sentences
  • And one would think that with sound geologic reasoning, a willingness to work, and the periodic influx of new money, someone smaller and leaner would periodically slip a finger through the brass ring of success.
  • But if its scrabble for identity lacks inspiration, its glossy finish sparkles enough to suggest that the brass ring of mainstream success isn't entirely out of this young band's reach.
  • After all, the Chicks haven't exactly hidden the fact that they went for the brass ring, and unashamedly enjoy their success.

get down to brass tacks

informal Start to consider the basic facts or practical details: we’ve had a meeting as to the general terms, and now we’re going to get down to brass tacks
More example sentences
  • We got off to a brilliant start but then the honeymoon period was over and we got down to brass tacks.
  • To get down to brass tacks: Red Stripe or Newcastle Brown?
  • Let's get down to brass tacks - or coffin nails, if you prefer.

Origin

Old English bræs, of unknown origin.

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