Origin of brass knuckles
Words nearby brass knuckles
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does brass knuckles mean?
Brass knuckles are a piece of metal designed to fit around the fingers by the lower knuckles and gripped by the hand. They can pack a powerful, potentially lethal punch.
How do you pronounce brass knuckles?[ bras nuhk–uhls ]
Where does brass knuckles come from?
Brass knuckles can be made out of a variety of materials. Though most notably made from hard brass, as their name suggests, the hand-held weapon can also be made from steel, iron, lead, wood, and even plastic.
An early form of brass knuckles was the ancient Roman caestus. Gladiators would wrap their knuckles in leather and affix metal studs, iron plates, and even spikes. Japanese martial artists have used a brass knuckles-like weapon called the tekko, made of wood or metal.
Brass knuckles were in use by armies by at least the 18th century. They were distributed by the U.S. military for soldiers during the Civil War; Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard even had one. During World War I and II, soldiers used variants fixed with knives for some extra force in hand-to-hand combat. Others have even made versions with guns.
Brass knuckles are currently illegal in over 20 countries. Though not outlawed by the U.S. federal government, a number of cities and states have banned them, including New York. Where legal, the purchaser often has to be over 18 and illegal possession can earn jail time. People have been beaten to death just from brass knuckles alone.
Brass knuckles have long been associated with gangsters, pimps, and felons. There’s even been a crime movie made in the 1920s called Brass Knuckles. Fast forward to 2008, when Angelina Jolie sported them in the action thriller Wanted. Professional wrestler William Regal notably had a move called the Power of the Punch, in which he “hits” his opponent while wearing brass knuckles.
Thanks to their down-and-dirty past, brass knuckles have developed a “badass” image, lending them as a fashion statement everywhere from the hip-hop to the hardcore scene. Some are bedizened with jewels or ornamental skulls, worn on necklaces, belt buckles, and shoes, or adorned on cars.
They’re also feminized versions, with takes on brass knuckles stylized into large rings. Many books have used brass knuckles in their titles to signify toughness, as have many brands.
How is brass knuckles used in real life?
Rather than being treated delicately or censored, as its opposite kid gloves suggests, brass knuckles implies getting tough, literally or figuratively. Often people reference brass knuckles as if to say “Let’s get shit done.”
More examples of brass knuckles:
“Springfield man accused of using brass knuckles in fight with brother at Walmart”
—Parker Perry, Springfield News-Sun (headline), June, 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use brass knuckles in a sentence
But that project ran into serious hurdles with the network brass.Life After ‘Winter’s Bone’: Debra Granik on Finding J. Law and the Plight of the Female Director|Marlow Stern|October 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
So maybe we should take a lesson from women with brass ovaries: comedy and feminism are longstanding bedfellows.
But even as he was receiving awards, the military brass was processing his discharge—they had found out he was transgender.Yes to LGB, No to T: The Pentagon Still Has a Transgender Ban|Tim Mak|October 21, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Violation of gravitas is being taken ‘extremely seriously’ by army top brass, source says.
The soldier launches into a comical strut and pretends to polish his guard box with his knuckles.
They were provided with sails and twelve oars each, and a falconet, or small brass cannon.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell
Mademoiselle snatched it from the hand, which was very tiny, and pink, with dimples where grown up folk have knuckles.Rosemary in Search of a Father|C. N. Williamson
"I wonder if 'twas a brass drum, such as has 'Eblubust Unum' printed on't," said Mrs. Slocum.
Picture frames, nicely moulded in brass, were made here in 1825, by a modeller named Maurice Garvey.Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham|Thomas T. Harman and Walter Showell
The air was heavy with the perfume of frankincense which smouldered in a brass vessel set upon a tray.Dope|Sax Rohmer