Webster 1913 Edition



, AS.
; akin to Icel.
cement, solder,
to harden by fire, and to E.
. Cf. 1st & 2d
An alloy (usually yellow) of copper and zinc, in variable proportion, but often containing two parts of copper to one part of zinc. It sometimes contains tin, and rarely other metals.
A journal bearing, so called because frequently made of brass. A brass is often lined with a softer metal, when the latter is generally called a white metal lining. See
Axle box
Journal Box
, and
Coin made of copper, brass, or bronze.
Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor
in your purses, nor scrip for your journey.
Matt. x. 9.
Impudence; a brazen face.
Utensils, ornaments, or other articles of brass.
The very scullion who cleans the
A brass plate engraved with a figure or device. Specifically, one used as a memorial to the dead, and generally having the portrait, coat of arms, etc.
Lumps of pyrites or sulphuret of iron, the color of which is near to that of brass.
☞ The word brass as used in Sculpture language is a translation for copper or some kind of bronze.
Brass is often used adjectively or in self-explaining compounds; as, brass button, brass kettle, brass founder, brass foundry or brassfoundry.
Brass band
a band of musicians who play upon wind instruments made of brass, as trumpets, cornets, etc.
Brass foil
Brass leaf
brass made into very thin sheets; – called also
Dutch gold

Webster 1828 Edition



, n.
An alloy of copper and zink,of a yellow color; usually containing about one third of its weight of zink, but the proportions are variable. The best brass is made by cementation of calamine or the oxyd of zink with granulated copper.
Impudence; a brazen face.

Definition 2024



See also: bräss



brass (usually uncountable, plural brasses)

  1. (uncountable) A metallic alloy of copper and zinc used in many industrial and plumbing applications.
  2. (countable, music) A class of wind instruments, usually made of metal (such as brass), that use vibrations of the player's lips to produce sound.
  3. Spent shell casings (usually made of brass); the part of the cartridge left over after bullets have been fired.
  4. (uncountable) The colour of brass.
    brass colour:    
  5. (uncountable, used as a singular or plural noun, military) High-ranking officers.
    The brass are not going to like this.
    The brass is not going to like this.
  6. (uncountable, informal) A brave or foolhardy attitude.
    You've got a lot of brass telling me to do that!
  7. (slang, dated) Money.
  8. Inferior composition.
Derived terms


brass (comparative more brass, superlative most brass)

  1. Made of brass, of or pertaining to brass.
  2. Of the colour of brass.
  3. (informal) Impertinent, bold: brazen.
    • 1996 May 24, 2:00 am, Sherman Simpson, Want license key for AGENT FOR WINDOWS95, alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent:
      Maybe (probably so), but it's rare someone is brass enough to post a msg for all to see asking for a software key, that the vast majority have paid for in support of the development effort.
    • 2000 Aug 18, 2:00 am, David Ryan, strangest bid retraction /illegal lottery NOT, rec.collecting.coins:
      After cornering the dutch auction, the seller was brass enough to send him the whole lot without one.
    • 2000 Aug 19, 3:00 am, n4mwd, for RMB,
      Try to keep in mind that not all of his converts are brass enough to challenge the benzo pushers in this group, [...]
  4. (slang) Bad, annoying; as wordplay applied especially to brass instruments.
    • 1888, Mr. & Mrs. Bancroft on and off the stage: written by themselves, volume 1, page 90:
      Grindoff, the miller, 'and the leader of a very brass band of most unpopular performers, with a thorough base accompaniment of at least fifty vices,' was played by Miss Saunders.
    • 1900, The Training of Seamen, published in The Saturday Review, 3 November 1900, volume 90, number 2349, page 556:
      I must confess that to me there is something almost pathetic in the sight of a body of bluejackets improving their muscles on the quarter deck by bar-bell exercise, accompanied by a brass — a very brass — band, [...]
    • 1908, The Smith Family, published in Punch, March 4 1908, bound in Punch vol. CXXXIV, page 168:
      Mr. REGINALD SMITH, KC, the publisher, followed, but he had hardly begun his very interesting remarks when a procession headed by a very brass band entered Smithfield from the west, and approached the platform.
    • 1937, Blair Niles, A journey in time: Peruvian pageant, page 166:
      There are soldiers, policemen, priests and friars, as well as a motley mass of women, children, babies and dogs, and upon special occasions a very brass band.
    • Philippine Magazine, volume 6, page 27: (Can we date this quote?)
      The padre in my neighborhood — Santa Ana — was having some kind of a fiesta, and had hired a very brass band. This band kept up its martial airs for hours and hours after I got home, with grand finales — or what each time I hoped would be the grand finale, every five minutes.
  5. Of inferior composition.
    • 1939, The New York times film reviews, volume 3:
      As Honest Plush Brannon then, Mr. Beery is one of San Francisco's fancier con men and hence more brass than plush
  • 1869, Calendar of State Papers, domestic series, of the reign of Charles I, 1637-1638, edited by John Bruce, page 147:
    At the Council board, I hope to charge him with that he cannot answer, and yet I know his face is brass enough.
  • 1872, Elsie Leigh Whittlesey, Helen Ethinger: or, Not Exactly Right, page 154:
    [...] he continued in the same insulting strain. "If you were not quite brass, you would know it is not proper to be making promises you dare not tell of."
  • 2011, Paul Christopher, The Templar Conspiracy:
    It was a show of very large and very brass cojones, [...]


brass (third-person singular simple present brasses, present participle brassing, simple past and past participle brassed)

  1. to coat with brass


Related terms

Etymology 2

By ellipsis from "brass nail," in turn from "nail[ing]" (fig.) and "brass blonde" (see "brazen").


brass (uncountable)

  1. (uncountable, slang) Brass in pocket; money.
  2. (countable, slang) A brass nail; a prostitute.



  1. (slang) Brass monkey; cold.

See also



  • IPA(key): /prasː/
  • Rhymes: -asː


brass n (genitive singular brass, no plural)

  1. (music, slang) brass