an exercise in miscellany

Get Down to Brass Tacks

In history, words & phrases on September 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

The figurative expression ‘getting down to brass tacks’ isn’t particularly old as phrases go. Its first appearance in print that I can find, from the USA in January 1863, was in the Texas newspaper The Tri-Weekly Telegraph:

“When you come down to ‘brass tacks’ – if we may be allowed the expression – everybody is governed by selfishness.”

All of the other known early citations either originate in, or refer to, Texas. It is reasonable to assume that the phrase was coined there, in or about the 1860s.

 

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