1. as a metal used in coins.
(a) (also brassey) money; esp. as in the UK northern phr. where there’s muck there’s brass and similar homilies.
|F&H].Matthew x 9: Posses not golde, nor silver, nor brasse yn youre gerdels [|
|Virgidemiarum (1599) Bk IV 68: Hirelings enow beside, can be so base, Tho’ we should scorne ech bribing varlets brasse.|
|Albino and Bellama 139: Then fill a dozen hostesse, wee’l have a merry cup, And make the Tinker forfet his budget and his brasse.|
|Jack Adams his perpetual almanack 40: The rest of the Planets are fain to use Brass money like the duke of Moscovy.|
|Harlequin Sheppard 18: What a Pother has here been, with Wood and his Brass, / Who wou’d modestly make a few Halfpennies pass?|
|Buck’s Delight 26: I’ve a purse well stock’d with brass.‘The Rake at Large’|
|Sporting Mag. Dec. XVII 145/1: He must have the brass.|
|Doctor Syntax, Picturesque (1868) 85/2: I would never be an ass / For all your gold, with all your brass.|
|Love’s Frailties II i: Oh, it means that if you ha’ not spent all your brass, you may come in.|
|Wreck I iii: I don’t consider myself paid till I ha’ gotten the brass in my pocket.|
|Sixteen-String Jack 248: Here be a purse well filled wi’ brass.|
|Mons. Merlin 18 Oct. 6/2: Numismatics seem to afford an unbounded range for the exercise of slang [...] ‘Brass’ is another metallic misnomer.|
|Melbourne Punch 20 Nov. 4/1: ‘Proposals for a New Slang Dictionary’ [...] PEWTER.—Noun. Brads, rhino, blunt, dibbs, mopusses, browns, tin, brass, stumpy, &c.|
|S.F. Call 26 Mar. n.p.: [He] went to fight the furious tiger, / Went to fight the beast at faro, / And was cleaned out so completely / That he lost his every mopus, / Every single speck of pewter, / Every solitary shiner, / Every brad and every dollar [...] All the dimes and all the horse-nails, / All the brass and all the needful.|
|Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act I: You must bank with me till the brass comes.|
|Boggart of Orton Cloough 4: We’re two hard-workin fokes ats doin eawr best geet on a bit, an’ save a bit o’ brass.|
|‘’Arry on the Turf’ Punch 29 Nov. 297/1: ’Eere’s oping to hear from yer soon, with the brass.|
|Plain Tales from the Hills 64: ‘Ah said,’ said Learoyd, ‘gie us t’ brass. Tak oop a subscripshun, lads.’.‘The Three Musketeers’|
|Sporting Times 11 Jan. 2: [He] plastered down his brass, and if he had not got brass his credit, and if he hadn’t got credit, went and found a juggins to back Caerau for the Getting Home Stakes.|
|Truth (Sydney) 28 Oct. 1/4: Depositors can’t get their ‘brass’ / Until Banks ‘reconstruct’ again.|
|Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 14 Nov. 1/1: Of course punters put their brass on Saltoun.|
|Sporting Times 25 Aug. 1/4: I’ve been out of a crib / For a matter of six years or so; / In fact, since we’ve been married, I’m telling no fib, / I’ve been out of work, that’s why the show / Has been run by the missis with her bit of brass.‘An Ungrateful “Missis”’|
|Chimmie Fadden and Mr Paul 23: I ’m slicing wit me brassey [...] like it was a bread knife.|
|Sun. Times (Perth) 8 Jan. 1/1: Ninety per cent of the members did in their brass at Ascot.|
|Marvel 15 Oct. 5: I planks down my bit of brass, and we has the men matched for £50 a side.|
|Truth (Sydney) 29 Jan. 5/3: Her ole man he won’t divorce her, / For he’s one eye on her brass.|
|Lonely Plough (1931) 144: I’d meant to go, if I’d had to work my passage, but the old man’s seen to the brass.|
|London Town 131: Ah want some brass for the evening!|
|None But the Lonely Heart 89: When He had a job, like and a bit of brass to spare.|
|Sun. Herald (Sydney) 8 June 9/5: Detective Doyle's list includes such old English slang words as ‘brass,’ money, which dates from the 16th century.in|
|Room at the Top (1959) 210: Brown chuckled. ‘You should have seen to it that your parents had more brass. I didn’t make the world.’.|
|Apprentices (1970) I ii: Anyone for cards, boys? Show your brass or remove your arse.|
|(con. 1950) Spend, Spend, Spend Scene 10: Get them flogged. Bring me the brass.|
|Trainspotting 283: Now th cat is tellin us how tae spend the brass, likesay.|
|Observer Screen 7 Nov. 20: The old adage ‘Where there’s muck, there’s brass’.|
|More You Bet 67: ‘Money’ [...] might also be referred to as ‘cash’, or ‘coin’, or ‘oscar’, or ‘moolah’, or ‘notes’, or ‘bills’, or ‘chips’ or ‘brass’, or ‘dosh’, or ‘dough’, or ‘bread’, or ‘biscuits’, or ‘bullets’, or ‘ammunition’.|
(b) (W.I.) a penny.
|cited in Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).|
(c) genuine jewellery.
|AS IV:5 338: Brass—Fake jewelry; any jewelry.‘Vocab. of Bums’ in|
(d) (US Und.) a fake ‘gold’ ring.
|How I Became a Detective 90: Brass – Phoney jewelry.|
|You Can’t Win 163: The ‘brass’ was portioned out and they started uptown to ‘tell the natives how it happened.’.|
|AS II:9 388: The term is used chiefly by brass-men,—vags who peddle phoney jewelry (brass) to yokels.‘Argot of the Vagabond’ in|
|see sense 1c.|
|Und. and Prison Sl. 20: brass, n. [...] 2. Cheap jewelry which is used for flash and in swindling.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 32: brass Cheap or imitation jewelry.|
|World’s Toughest Prison 792: brass – Fake jewelry.|
(e) (US prison) currency used in jail.
|False Starts 135: Wonder if I have enough brass for cup of coffee in the inmate canteen.|
2. audacity, gall, cheek [the image of SE brass as a measure of hardness and thus insensibility].
|Of Virgil his Æneis II: A brasse bold merchaunt in causes dangerus hardye.|
|Woman’s Wit I i: This Impudence melts my very Soul – There’s a Look! There’s a Forehead! There’s Brass for you!|
|Inconstant I ii: Thou hast impudence to set a good face upon anything; I would change half my gold for half thy brass, with all my heart.|
|Examen 256: She, in her Defence, made him appear such a Rogue [...] that the Chief Justice wondered he had the Brass to appear in a Court of Justice.|
|She Stoops to Conquer Act III: To me he appears the most impudent piece of brass that ever spoke with a tongue.|
|Poor Gentleman IV ii: Impudent old scoundrel! [...] calls my family a wretched rabble. (Aside.) – Humphrey, did you ever see such brass?|
|Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) II 195: We polished up the brass upon our foreheads a little. It was time now to bounce and swagger.(trans.)|
|Jack Randall’s Diary 22: What lots of brass the Lad, From ever-bounteous Nature had, To raise a row.|
|Exploits and Adventures (1934) 169: He was possessed of considerable address, and had brass enough in his face to make a wash-kettle.|
|Paul Pry 30 Sept. 181/4: [W]ho should have the brass to make her appearance but Mother Ward, of No. 62, Castle-street, Leicester-square-the keeper of that pestilential bawdy house.|
|London Mag. Feb. 64/1: The brother of the cabinet minister, who sported the ‘cut-off coat and brass buttons’ [...] was young Hobbus. Heaven knows he had ‘brass enough,’ without this exhibition, and the sooner he ‘cuts off’ to private life, the better.|
|Major Jones’s Courtship (1872) 65: He’s got more brass in his face than ther is in mother’s preservin kittle, and more gab than Mr. Mountgomery and our preacher together.|
|Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 25 Feb. 3/3: Mr Percy Simpson [...] called at Jennings’ Committee Rooms with brass in his face and no tin in his pocket.|
|Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Aug. 2/4: The unfortunate ‘scélérat’ being short of tin, was obliged to have recourse to brass.|
|Fashion II ii: A rich one he would be, had he as much gold as brass!|
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 131/1: ‘I’ve got plenty o’ brass i’ mi pokkit tu karry uz thru.’ ‘And a bloody sight more in your face; more’n I’d like a “moll” to have if I’d anything to do with her,’ whispered Folkstone.|
|Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 199: He started with a lot of ‘tin,’ but had not sufficient ‘brass’ or physique to stand the wear-and-tear of the life.|
|Forty Years a Gambler 290: Why, he’s got more brass than there is in twenty brass bands.|
|Truth (Sydney) 7 Apr. 3/5: It is Brassey’s ‘brass’ that has made him what he is today.|
|‘Mister Johnson Don’t Get Gay With Me’ [lyrics] He was just about to give de lady sass, / But then, to tell de truth, he didn’t have the brass.|
|‘The Blanky Papers’ in Roderick (1972) 786: There’s no room for a blanky Australian in blanky Australia these days. Only blanky cheek an’ brass and blanky motor car dust in yer blanky face.|
|Human Touch 189: The brass of them; the ineffable gall.|
|Broadway Melody 27: The music roll was a give-away—these rococo invaders had the brass to think they would make a Zannie show.|
|(con. 1850s) Kingdom Coming 71: Son [...] you got de brass, all right.|
|Reported Safe Arrival 62: ’Ow they ’as the brass ter dish all that bull ter the ole Sky-Artist beats me!|
|Walk on the Water 72: He’s so much brass, that one, he should be in the limey army.|
|Solid Mandala (1976) 233: ‘I never cared for brass,’ she said, ‘in particular from subordinate young men.’.|
|Picture Palace 72: ‘You’ve got brass,’ he said.|
|in Erotic Muse (1992) 335: Any Stanford son-of-a-bitch / Who doesn’t like the Trojan brass, / Can pucker up his rosy lips / And kiss my Trojan ass.|
|Legs 49: McFadden, you got more brass than the Liberty Bell.|
3. as a superior figure, usu. in an institution [brass hat under brass adj.1 ].
(a) a senior officer in the police, a prison, or armed services; also attrib.
|‘The Brass-Mounted Army’ inLone Star Ballads (1874) 59: They issue Standing Orders to keep us all in line, / For if we had a showing the brass would fail to shine. / [...] The sentry’s then instructed to let no Private pass / —The rich man’s house and table are fix’d to suit the ‘brass.’.|
|Boston Herald 26 July 4/8: It was not a big brass general that came; but a man in khaki kit [DA].|
|Kingsblood Royal (2001) 81: I heard it from some pretty high-ranking brass on the Other Side.|
|Little Sister 119: The Krauts cleaned most of it out. Our brass got the rest.|
|USA Confidential 43: They no longer hesitate to try to take pretty young girls away from high ranking male brass, who used to have first pick on most WAC, WAVE and women Marine recruits.|
|Battle Cry (1964) 123: Ah, we can start the war. The brass has arrived.|
|Vietnam Diary 1: I’ve been able to hitch a ride with a group of brass heading down to Vietnam [...] generals and colonels (and one ambassador).|
|Pimp 93: His pimping don’t faze the white brass.|
|Sir, You Bastard 163: A DI moving with the brass was of infinitely more value.|
|Choirboys (1976) 67: She believed that the brass of the department was discriminating against women.|
|Brown’s Requiem 118: I judged them to be Marine Corps brass.|
|Wiseguy (2001) 143: The local prison officials had no way of knowing whether Henry’s case might not be of more than casual interest to the brass.|
|Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Brass. 1. Prison officer executive ranks.|
|Rivethead (1992) 129: Roger B. Smith and a flock of Pentagon brass were coming to pay us a visit.|
|Stalker (2001) 120: The brass had dictated that unmarkeds were to be used only when the element of surprise was necessary.|
|Night Gardener 5: The brass don’t like him, but they sure don’t fuck with him.|
|(con. 1973) Johnny Porno 245: ‘What would make things move on your end?’ ‘A direct order from the brass upstairs’.|
|The Force [ebook] He has rabbis at the Puzzle Palace [i.e. NYPD HQ], brass looking out for his interests.|
(b) any variety of senior official, e.g. a politician.
|R].Meeting of Reserve Officers Assoc. 22 Feb., Arlington, VA in Cochran H. Truman and the Crisis Presidency n.p.: I am just as fond of and just as loyal to my military aide as I am to the high brass, and I want you to distinctly understand that any SOB who thinks he can cause any of these people to be discharged by me by some smart-aleck statement over the air or in the paper, he has another think coming [|
|On the Waterfront (1964) 255: The annual banquet [...] boasted a guest list of political brass that rivalled anything in the State.|
|Union Dues (1978) 38: He’s as good as dead with the brass if he loses.|
|Tourist Season (1987) 328: See, I had a nifty deal going here at the paper. The brass liked me.|
|Indiawise Oct. 2: Waging these bloody wars which neither change the boundaries nor the perspective of our bumbling brass.|
(c) a social superior.
|Augie March (1996) 140: So to speak, reserved for the brass, the Frenchel heiresses.|
4. (US black, also brasses, brassies) brass knuckles.
|Und. and Prison Sl. 20: brasses, n. Brass knuckles.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 33: brasses [...] brassies Brass knuckles.|
|Runnin’ Down Some Lines 106: Brass knuckles (knuckles, brass).|
1. (Aus.) a confidence trickster.
|AS II:9 388: The term is used chiefly by brass-men,—vags who peddle phoney jewelry (brass) to yokels.‘Argot of the Vagabond’ in|
2. (US Und.) a politician or one who has influence among politicians.
|Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.|
(US tramp) a person who sells imitation gold jewellery.
|You Can’t Win 111: ‘Brass peddlers,’ bums who sold imitation gold jewelry, principally rings, appeared on the streets with their ninety-cents-a-dozen gold ‘hoops’ made in Wichita, Kansas, and ‘dropped’ them to the Indian squaws and railroad laborers for any price from one dollar up […]. [Ibid.] There is no more industrious person than a half-drunk brass peddler out on the street ‘making a plunge’ for enough coin to buy himself another micky of alcohol.|
|Rough Stuff 13: All the boys from brass peddlers (petty confidence men) to stick-up men used to go there. A brass peddler is a fellow that buys fake jewelry, and stamps it 14 carat.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
to go through life cheerfully, without much regard for the feelings of others.
|DSUE (1984) 129/2: from ca. 1918.|
to pay money owed.
|Marvel XIV:344 June 1: You’ll take any oath as is put to yer that you’ll brass down to them outside what’ll be named for to take it?|
to bluff, bluster or brazen one’s way out of a situation.
|Southern Tour 195: A few of the exquisites came down the bluff to gaze at me, and a scape-gallows fellow, to brass it out, came on board — I was grieved to see such impudence in so young a man.|
|Brighton Gaz. 17 Jan. 5/4: Those, however, who prefer living by their wits, instead of their hands, ought [...] to use a slang phrase of the fraternity, ‘brass’ out everything.|
|Castelford Case 72: Them Protestants always takes to worldly things, instead of true religion [...] they think to brass it out, and look grand and fine.|
|Century Mag. 14 385/1: The fellow tried to brass it out, but Davney's tirade took him off his feet. He fell into a chair and could not say a word.|
|Railway Herald Mag. 1-2 14: I don’t think it was a very successful attempt, but I managed to brass it out until assistance arrived.|
|Other Fellow 101: Trust to luck. Brass it out. There’s nothing like audacity.|
|Ruggles of Red Gap 288: He apparently resolved to brass it out, for he glanced full at me with a terrific assumption of bravado.|
|Railroad of Death 143: I tore out all the most unpleasant things about the Nips and hoped to brass it out if it were called in.|
|Preacher & I 350: Would he brass it out? After all, he must have some nerve if he was a cop- killer .|
|Shades of Travis McGee 397: They tried to brass it out for a little while. But the redhead started snuffling and choking.|
|Economist 277 77/2: When the scandal first broke the conglomerate [...] tried to brass it out.|
|Filth 204: Then Lennox reluctantly disappears, trying to brass it out.|
|Life n.p.: I said, ‘We’ve got to brass it out, Stu.’.|
see separate entry.
1. to hand over money; to pay a debt.
|Sporting Times 25 Jan. 1/5: If you don’t brass up I shall put you orf the ’bus.|
|A Pink ’Un and a Pelican 175: Romano brassed up the thick ’uns.|
|[perf. Vesta Victoria] A 'oliday on One Pound Ten [lyrics] [T]he money shrunk a bit when we brassed up the fare.|
|Spoilers 7: Brassin’ up my deaner for a chair.|
|Limehouse Nights 295: If yeh don’t brass up by Wednesday night – then I’ll see that yeh get it where the bottle got the cork.|
|Keys to Crookdom 399: Brass up. To divide stolen goods, to split, cut up, to divvy.|
|Right Ho, Jeeves 79: He brassed up like an officer and a gentleman.|
|Mating Season 78: And Gussie brassed up and was free?|
|Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 71: Don’t these blokes want to see books and figures and things before they brass up.|
|Much Obliged, Jeeves 54: I presumed Uncle Tom would brass up.|
2. (W.I., Bdos) to scold, to reprimand.
|Notes for Gloss. of Barbadian Dial. 21: The sergeant brassed up his men when he heard they had let the prisoner escape, i.e. gave them a good ‘dressing down’.|
(US Und.) to peddle fake or cheap jewellery.
|Und. and Prison Sl. 20: Johnny and his beetle are out now, trying to shove the brass.|