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brass hat

noun

, Slang.
  1. a person in a high position, especially a top-ranking army or navy officer.


brass hat

noun

  1. informal.
    a top-ranking official, esp a military officer


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Word History and Origins

Origin of brass hat1

First recorded in 1890–95
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Word History and Origins

Origin of brass hat1

C20: from the gold leaf decoration on the peaks of caps worn by officers of high rank
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Idioms and Phrases

A high-ranking official, as in All the brass bats were invited to the sales conference . The terms big 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.
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Example Sentences

On the other hand the great Brass Hat is human and makes a slip, a clerical error, now and again sufficient to expose his flank.

You'll be a blighted brass-hat, coming it heavy over the hard-working regimental officer.

Theres a brass hat coming down the trench, said Phineas, and brass hats have no use for rhapsodical privates.

She confided in Aunt Janes ear that I should soon be a brass hat.

Sure, an' mebby the old brass hat has some feelin's after all.

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Dictionary.com Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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