Definition of brass in English:



  • 1mass noun A yellow alloy of copper and zinc.

    as modifier ‘a brass plate on the door’
    • ‘Two of the oldest and most widely used of all alloys, bronze and brass, also contain copper.’
    • ‘Gold, silver, copper and brass have all been used to make these materials.’
    • ‘Bronze is made with tin added to copper and brass has zinc in the alloy.’
    • ‘However, there are a great number of alloys in aluminum, brass, and stainless steel, and doubtless there are also different resistances for many.’
    • ‘After the War he brought up bronze, copper and brass from the island's many wrecks, at a time when these metals were in short supply.’
    • ‘A nuisance associated with hydrogen sulfide includes its corrosiveness to metals such as iron, steel, copper and brass.’
    • ‘Also remember that brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, and the reaction will still take place.’
    • ‘The company plans to produce mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium, copper and brass on the site.’
    • ‘The element was probably most widely used and best known in the form of brass, an alloy of zinc and copper.’
    • ‘In India, Tamils are known for their handmade silk saris, pottery figures of various gods, bronze work, and brass and copper inlaid with silver.’
    • ‘The tulips and hearts theme continues throughout the house in wood carvings and stained glass, and even in beautiful brass and copper door plates.’
    • ‘Some of the more important metal alloys were gold, brass, bronze and pewter.’
    • ‘An exciting crafts show of brass, copper and bronze artefacts is on at The Heritage until April 16.’
    • ‘The most famous were copper and brass plates held by the town of Tuckabatchee.’
    • ‘It is such a soft and pliable metal that it needs to be alloyed with other metals, into brass or bronze, before it can be used for a structural purpose.’
    • ‘He described the ratios between the densities of gold, mercury, lead, silver, bronze, copper, brass, iron, and tin.’
    • ‘Stainless steel, brass, and other metals also are options.’
    • ‘Nearly all were made of electroplated brass, copper, or nickel silver (a white metal alloy).’
    • ‘Mounted directly on the polycarbonate shade, the rings are available in anodized aluminium, matt brass, copper or stainless steel.’
    • ‘The crude drawer handles made at Byrdcliffe of wrought iron, brass, and copper have retained their original dull surface.’
    rudeness, insolence, impoliteness, unmannerliness, bad manners, lack of civility, discourtesy, discourteousness, disrespectfulness, incivility
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    1. 1.1count noun A decorative object made of brass.
      ‘shining brasses stood on the mantelpiece’
      • ‘Between the windows is a cherry bonnet-top chest-on-chest, about 1760-1780, with its original brasses.’
      • ‘The brasses, with the exception of the side handles, were replaced.’
      • ‘Most antique furniture can suffer as a result of extremes in temperature, especially painted and lacquered examples and those inlaid with marquetry, brass or ivory decoration.’
      • ‘Norma said: ‘We look to firms in Heywood for our ropes, brasses and other fittings.’’
      • ‘The dominant decorative feature is the array of ornate brasses with pierced backplates.’
      • ‘The last side plate is an angular brass specimen decorated with an incised standard.’
      • ‘She said that the house was falling into filth and decay, the ironing overflowed the laundry baskets, the brasses were dull, the shopping had to be done, food provided, dishes put away, the lawn to be mowed, and the windows washed.’
      • ‘Scarring confirms that it originally had bail brasses.’
      • ‘If things went well, at the beginning of the week, the four crew would be doing all the work, explaining what we did as we went along, from putting up sails to navigating, polishing the brasses, building weather charts and making the tea.’
      • ‘All the chased and engraved brasses on the high chest are original, whereas those on the dressing table are replacements.’
      • ‘It retains its original Birmingham-type brass bail brasses; indeed, they and the side handles may well have been its most expensive components.’
      • ‘Internally there is a stunning collection of wool merchants' brasses.’
      • ‘For example, Aucissa brooches from France and Britain and identical brooches from Israel are all pure brasses.’
      • ‘It retains not only its original octagonal stamped English brasses and ivory escutcheons but also most of its gray-blue paper drawer and cupboard lining.’
      • ‘It retains its original brasses, finials, and decorative carving.’
      • ‘Under magnification, the vintage photograph revealed a series of dark markings on the drawer fronts that suggested a set of brasses earlier than the neoclassical ones, which led to a careful study of the drawer fronts themselves.’
      • ‘They were prepared to take the brasses off the door, to take the door off the hinges, and flog the lot.’
      • ‘Its massive size, elegant blockfront facade, extensive use of mahogany large plates of mirror glass, and imported brasses made this an expensive and no doubt valued piece.’
      • ‘Then we went down to the pub at the corner of the road, a nice cosy oak-walled place filled with medics and rich old boys amid the gleam of mirrors and brasses.’
      memorial tablet, plate, stone plate, metal plate, tablet, panel, sign, medallion, plaquette, cartouche
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    2. 1.2British count noun A round flat brass ornament for the harness of a draught horse.
      • ‘Mog and Kenn got two new ashtrays, horse brasses and some waterproofs.’
      • ‘Walk in to the Progress pub in Tuffnell Park, North London and you won't find horse brasses on the walls.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One extraordinary reminder of the past greets every in-coming visitor to Cork airport: an old gas fire, with fake coal effect, bedecked with horse brasses and completed with a set of comfy seats.’
      • ‘Or it could be the rustic halved barrels with horse brasses, pumps and a stuffed fish.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The picture was obviously taken for a special occasion - perhaps a trade event or a May Day, when horses were traditionally turned out with ribbons, plumes and polished brasses, as this pair is.’
      • ‘Crockery, pictures and horse brasses cover the white walls with black wood beams and a quiz poker game tries to woo those with a spare 50p in their pocket with its flashing lights.’
      • ‘The rest of the Queen Victoria Inn is as you remember it, done out in a typical English pub decor, with maps, old photographs, horse brasses, old timbers and even a collection of tea pots!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the second show, the camera takes us inside several of the country's top residential clinics which all seem to be located in fake country houses with blackened beams and horse brasses.’
      • ‘Given half a chance the British car designer would fit an open fire instead of a heater, and some horse brasses.’
      • ‘When the Westingshire Brewery took over the Goat and Compasses in the mid-seventies they favoured faux nineteenth century horse brasses and a liberal smearing of oak veneer.’
    3. 1.3count 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’
      • ‘Before and after the Reformation the families of the deceased commemorated them by erecting tombs bearing brasses or sculptures or placed elaborate gravestones in churchyards.’
      • ‘Visits to churches and castles with his father alerted him to aspects of ecclesiastical and secular iconography, in particular medieval paving tiles, monumental brasses, and heraldry.’
      • ‘A ‘pudding-basin’ cut, often seen on memorial brasses, shows hair thick but clear of the ears, probably to assist in cushioning the helmet.’
      • ‘His widow's stone bears a memorial brass inscribed with Latin verses but is otherwise unmarked.’
      • ‘The tabernacle, sanctuary lamp and all brasses have been cleaned, polished and lacquered in both Mulranny and Tiernaur churches.’
      • ‘The church brasses were embedded in the floor, and in June 2002, thieves prised up six figures and took them away.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Unless protected, medieval brasses are pitted by their droppings, as are tomb slabs.’
      • ‘It was a centre of cultural production, as we call it, where they made tombs and brasses and all kinds of statuary and things like that, because they were near the cathedral.’
      • ‘The simplest brasses were inscribed with the name of the deceased.’
      monument, shrine, mausoleum, cenotaph
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    4. 1.4count noun A brass block or die used for stamping a design on a book binding.
      • ‘The collection also features a set of scales from the old factory, and an original brass butter stamp’
  • 2Music
    Brass wind instruments (including trumpet, horn, and trombone) forming a band or a section of an orchestra.

    ‘the brass were consistently too loud’
    • ‘We harmonize like the brass section of a band, and we need discipline to do that type of music.’
    • ‘I sat enthralled at the harmony of the strings, brasses, winds and percussion.’
    • ‘This is also as good a place as any to mention the playing of the Kirov Orchestra: wonderful winds and brasses were only a part of the glories they had to offer, with excellent string playing - in short, everything one could want.’
    • ‘The brass section of an orchestra typically consists of trumpets, horns, trombones, and tubas.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 3informal People in authority or of high military rank.

    ‘the top brass of the Jockey Club’
    • ‘Army brass appears concerned about the breadth of such resistance.’
    • ‘But all he has done so far is alienate the military brass, defense industry execs, and Congress.’
    • ‘Yet he is silent on how the military brass (including himself) responded to the horrors.’
    • ‘It is not an official diplomatic conference, but all the top brass and political bigwigs can be found there.’
    • ‘On the other hand the military brass were very interested in the information we gathered from our first contact.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The New York Times reports that, for decades, the military brass has assured the locals that underground storage of these weapons was perfectly safe.’
    • ‘The military brass insisted that the only way to reduce the term of service for conscripts to one year would be to draft twice as many men as it does at present.’
    • ‘This is another indication that the methods have the tacit support of the military brass.’
    • ‘As a veteran officer and the most experienced congressional figure in defense appropriations, he enjoys the closest ties with the military brass.’
    • ‘There have been rumblings of a military coup, although the military brass is not anxious to assume power under conditions of economic catastrophe.’
    • ‘Once in office, he quickly moved to finalise the accord, in order to end the legal cases and protect the military brass.’
    • ‘The search to uncover the truth leads to confrontation with the military top brass.’
    • ‘The guerrilla war may be annoying, and deadly, but it is also, the brass tells us, militarily insignificant.’
    • ‘After an outcry from the military brass and heavy attacks in the media, he reversed himself two days later.’
    • ‘This was a president who consulted opinion polls at every turn and who was cowed by the military brass.’
    • ‘The matter was settled in the summits of the Wellington Convention in which the Treaty of Vecca was signed by the top brasses.’
    • ‘Unless the military brass feels comfortable that certain sectors of the industry remain competitive, it has the ability to quash the deal.’
    • ‘After all, the military brass appears to be spending in other areas.’
    • ‘We are supposed to believe that he is an expert on Russia with a unique power of insight needed by the military top brass.’
    celebrity, famous person, very important person, personality, name, big name, famous name, household name, star, superstar, celebutante, leading light, mogul, giant, great, master, king, guru
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  • 4British informal Money.

    ‘they wanted to spend their newly acquired brass’
    • ‘The old pro there kind of takes a liking to the kid, gives him a brass.’
    money, wealth, finance, finances, funds, cash, hard cash, lucre, filthy lucre, wherewithal, means, assets, liquid assets, capital, resources, reserves, deep pockets
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  • brassed off

    • informal Exasperated.

      ‘I'm absolutely brassed off with all this talk about economic recovery’
      • ‘Or had the demon perhaps been part of some larger endeavor, with unseen others now brassed off at him for interfering with something he hadn't even known about?’
      • ‘She was so brassed off with Pat's backchat that she said I was to put my side of the story - the RIGHT SIDE!’
      • ‘Without warning, during his European tour, he jettisoned his horn section: an alternative case of being brassed off.’
      • ‘I hope he understands just how incredibly brassed off I am at him for having done it.’
      • ‘The South Americans must be getting a bit brassed off by this.’
      • ‘He has not offended anybody and he has not brassed off any of his colleagues.’
      • ‘What brasses me off is that a son of one of these refugees now wants to deny other refugees the sanctuary that was extended to his father.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And disgruntled consumers across the country will get the opportunity to vote for the one that brasses them off most of all over the course of the ten part series.’
      • ‘But what also brasses me off is that these grants should be used for tangible assets like buildings, computers, furniture and the like - not intangible things like applications for accreditation or reports.’
      • ‘Zora, however, looked incredibly brassed off.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But if those people are a bit brassed off about that, they should know they can lay the blame squarely and solely at the feet of the liquor industry.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I know many union officials, and very moderate people at that, who are absolutely brassed off when the conditions they have negotiated are passed on to somebody else.’
      • ‘As someone with a multitude of bad habits, though, I'm brassed off.’
      • ‘Watching this film, you will feel more than a little brassed off at the ruthless decision of the British Government to continue closing the mines.’
      annoyed, irritated, angry, irate, furious, incensed, inflamed, enraged, infuriated, maddened, fuming, wrathful, choleric, exasperated, piqued, irked, nettled, ill-humoured, hot-tempered, testy, cross, in a bad mood, in a temper, in high dudgeon, huffy, in a huff, put out, fed up, disgruntled, displeased, dissatisfied, frustrated, resentful
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  • a brass farthing

    • informal with negativeAny money or assets at all.

      ‘she hasn't got two brass farthings to rub together’
      • ‘One bunch of crooks are suing the other bunch of crooks or something like that - I wouldn't trust any of them with a brass farthing, let alone our currency.’
      • ‘The chances are that quite a bit of the same fish was taken from within the Irish fishing boundary and without a brass farthing to Ireland.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But the reality is that most of the time music composers and lyricists are not paid a brass farthing by those who make use of their creations.’
  • brass neck

    • informal Cheek or effrontery.

      ‘I didn't think that his mother would have the brass neck to come round here’
      • ‘Though with brass neck like hers, I'm rather surprised she didn't.’
      • ‘But on a moral level, and in the mind of every dog on the street, the sheer inadequacy and brass neck of Mr Martin's defence still rings hollow.’
      • ‘And politicians have the impertinence, not to mention the brass neck, to continue to wonder why the public is disillusioned with them.’
      • ‘Now the Crooked Inn is not even a customer, so Kate did not have the brass neck to ask why.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now Beverly has a brass neck and one of the worst cases of denial I have ever seen.’
      • ‘This film could never be called subtle or sophisticated, but you do grow to admire its brass neck.’
      • ‘She seems doggedly determined and grinningly admits to having a brass neck.’
      • ‘One woman had the brass neck to criticise his Government for presiding over a country where social services were being cut to the bone and the minimum wage never went up.’
      • ‘These must be pretty fragile things in modern Britain if they really can be so easily endangered by a handful of foxhunting chaps armed with nothing more than some brass neck.’
      • ‘But with a bit of imagination and a brass neck, we could make up for the lost opportunity now by reinventing ourselves as a series of weird and wonderful characters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If I had to put my finger on the exact appeal, it is the sheer weirdly muscled brass neck of everyone suspected of being involved in a doping cover up.’
      • ‘They might not have the brass neck to ask ‘Did you get your SSIA money yet?’’
      • ‘Any crackdown on those who have the brass neck to do this would be welcomed across the city.’
      • ‘It was tough going for the first six years as we had no money, no insurance, no sense, but loads of brass neck and enthusiasm.’
      • ‘She will need talent, a brass neck and an almost sociopathic level of direction and self-belief.’
      • ‘I have enough brass neck to walk past, but it left a bad feeling.’
      • ‘If that doesn't represent brass neck then I genuinely don't know what does.’
      • ‘So, for sheer brass neck, this takes some beating.’
      impertinence, impudence, cheek, cheekiness, bad manners, ill-manneredness, unmannerliness, rudeness, impoliteness, incivility, lack of civility, discourtesy, discourteousness, disrespect, insubordination, contempt
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  • the brass ring

    • informal Success or reward.

      ‘Willa went for the brass ring, joining the firm's San Francisco office at a whopping salary’
      • ‘And now, despite a painful history and against all reason, I am once more reaching for the brass ring of a relationship that works.’
      • ‘They're too close to grabbing the brass ring to jump off the merry-go-round.’
      • ‘If you're going to go for the brass ring, go all out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's time to go for the gold or make a grab for the brass ring (although you'd prefer to exchange it for a nice platinum band with a few tasteful diamonds, thank you).’
      • ‘Ten years ago I was still chasing the brass ring, waiting for my 16th platinum record to happen.’
      • ‘And while women may long for the brass ring that men have been grasping at for years, many of them are discovering that this is indeed a hollow and shallow pursuit that is not nearly as rewarding as motherhood.’
      • ‘Another part of the answer is that sometimes we don't go for the brass ring because we compare our qualifications to an ideal standard, instead of to other available candidates.’
      • ‘Now, at the age of 31, he feels time is running out, so he's reaching one more time for the brass ring.’
      • ‘Lydia was after the brass ring, and now that she has the brass ring what can she do with it?’
      • ‘The world grew still as we kept company with this serene, focused creature and for just a few minutes I knew that detached awareness, the brass ring of mediation that so often eludes my efforts.’
      • ‘Most musicians see Toronto, New York, Paris or London as the brass ring, the point of departure for the proverbial big time.’
      • ‘Then again, what if they had sold their souls for the brass ring?’
      • ‘There are particular numbers that indicate which championship teams obliterated all contenders and which ones barely snatched the brass ring from their rivals.’
      • ‘With all this caution and attention focused on our ‘elected’ officials, we have a moment where we can grasp the brass ring of self-government.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Since then, four senators did win presidential nominations, but in each case the brass ring ultimately eluded them.’
      • ‘After all, the Chicks haven't exactly hidden the fact that they went for the brass ring, and unashamedly enjoy their success.’
      • ‘Take some time today to experience a blissful moment and pay attention to how your heart feels - that's the brass ring, the thing that makes everything worthwhile, so savor it and look for lots of ways to bring more of it into your life.’
      • ‘I recognize that there's plenty of chick lit that turns the wedding/husband/baby into the brass ring that every woman's grasping for, but my books don't really fit that paradigm.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Let's get down to brass tacks - or coffin nails, if you prefer.’
      • ‘Once it was resolved, everyone just got down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘But we finally got there, and got down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘Once it was clear that Martha was going to be OK, Jim got down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘To get down to brass tacks: Red Stripe or Newcastle Brown?’
      • ‘This isn't about getting down to brass tacks and working through the kinks of developing music.’
      • ‘We got down to brass tacks in our labs with four completely different representatives of playback devices.’
      • ‘Racing to meet the April Fool's Day production deadline, the ladies got down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘Another team would fret, feeling the need to get down to brass tacks soon.’
      • ‘You're better off when you're away from town, and you've got no choice but to get down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘Think I'll take a few more days before I get down to brass tacks and plot structure.’
      • ‘While most of the other panelists attitudinized, he got down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘Now I've got that little rant out of my system, we can get down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘So, let's get down to brass tacks - what colour romper suits do we need to be looking at?’
      • ‘So to get down to brass tacks, here are the big questions.’
      • ‘We got off to a brilliant start but then the honeymoon period was over and we got down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘When we got down to brass tacks, only one, fairly unremarkable thing had happened - an old man died - which made filling those endless hours of airtime a challenge beyond the talents of the most creative, desperate producer.’
      • ‘The prospect is tantalising, but first it's time to get down to brass tacks.’


Old English bræs, of unknown origin.