Get Down to Brass Tacks (Origin)
What Is the Origin of the Saying "Get Down to Brass Tacks"?The term "get down to brass tacks" means to focus only on the basic facts.
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- English Proverbs and Idioms Test
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Examples of Use:
- It's a long report, but when you get down to the brass tacks, it's a simple concept.
- I've heard your mitigation, but let's get down to the brass tacks: you can't use that word to describe a work colleague.
- We only have this room for another 15 minutes, so we need to get down to the brass tacks quickly.
- Do not get down to the brass tacks of the deal too soon. The sheik will be offended if you don't spend some time talking about family.
Competing Theory"Get down to the brass tacks" comes from the haberdashery trade, where, for centuries, brass tacks have been nailed along the counter to help with measuring the length of cloth accurately. When measuring cloth, a measurement down to a brass tack would be accurate as opposed to guessed. It is a short mind leap from this notion to the idea of dealing with the actual facts and, subsequently, just the key facts.
Competing TheoryIn the saying "get down to brass tacks," the term "brass tacks" is Cockney Rhyming Slang for "the facts." (Cockney Rhyming Slang was invented by the London criminal fraternity to prevent eavesdropping from the police or informers. Other examples are "apples and pears (stairs)" and "trouble and strife (wife)."
Detractors of this theory highlight that only the first word is said when speaking Cockney Rhyming Slang. For example:
- I went up the apples and bumped into his trouble. (This means "I went up the stairs and bumped into his wife.")