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brass hat

noun, Slang.
a person in a high position, especially a top-ranking army or navy officer.
Origin of brass hat
First recorded in 1890-95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for brass hat
Historical Examples
  • She confided in Aunt Janes ear that I should soon be a brass hat.

    John Brown Captain R. W. Campbell
  • Now, what would a brass hat say in such an awkward emergency?

    My Second Year of the War Frederick Palmer
  • A Tommy was caught by a "brass hat" in the very act of strangling a chicken.

    "Contemptible" "Casualty"
  • "An energetic officer you have there," said the brass hat standing beside the colonel.

  • It is the occasion for a thrill when a "brass hat" arrives, for he at least has the little brilliant red tabs on his tunic!

    Life in a Tank Richard Haigh
  • As the train started he lurched and trod heavily on the toes of a very distinguished "brass hat."

  • For a “brass hat,” if such a thing existed, would be more ornamental than useful.

    A Padre in France George A. Birmingham
  • Theres a brass hat coming down the trench, said Phineas, and brass hats have no use for rhapsodical privates.

    The Rough Road

    William John Locke
British Dictionary definitions for brass hat

brass hat

(Brit, informal) a top-ranking official, esp a military officer
Word Origin
C20: from the gold leaf decoration on the peaks of caps worn by officers of high rank
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for brass hat

brass hat

noun phrase

  1. A high-ranking officer in the military or other uniformed services (1890s+ British)
  2. Any high-ranking official; manager; chief; boss (1930s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with brass hat

brass hat

A high-ranking official, as in All the brass bats were invited to the sales conference. The termsbig brass, top brass, and the brass all refer to high officials considered as a group. For example, John's one of the top brass in town—he's superintendent of schools. The origin of this term is disputed. Most authorities believe it originated in the late 19th-century British army, when senior officers had gold leaves on their cap brims. Another theory is that it referred to the cocked hat worn by Napoleon and his officers, which they folded and carried under the arm when indoors. In French these were called chapeaux à bras (“hats in arms”), a term the British are supposed to have anglicized as brass. By World War I brass hat referred to a high-ranking officer in Britain and America, and in World War II it was joined by the other brass phrases. After the war these terms began to be used for the top executives in business and other organizations.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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