brush-off

[bruhsh-awf, -of]

noun

a refusal to talk or listen to someone; abrupt or final dismissal or rebuff.

Nearby words

  1. brush off,
  2. brush turkey,
  3. brush up,
  4. brush-fire,
  5. brush-footed butterfly,
  6. brush-on,
  7. brush-tailed phalanger,
  8. brush-tailed possum,
  9. brushback,
  10. brushed

Origin of brush-off

1945–50, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase brush off

brush

1
[bruhsh]

noun

an implement consisting of bristles, hair, or the like, set in or attached to a handle, used for painting, cleaning, polishing, grooming, etc.
one of a pair of devices consisting of long, thin handles with wire bristles attached, used in jazz or dance bands for keeping a soft, rhythmic beat on the trap drums or the cymbals.
the bushy tail of an animal, especially of a fox.
Electricity.
  1. a conductor, often made of carbon or copper or a combination of the two, serving to maintain electric contact between stationary and moving parts of a machine, generator, or other apparatus.
  2. brush discharge.
a feathery or hairy tuft or tassel, as on the tip of a kernel of grain or on a man's hat.
an act or instance of brushing; application of a brush.
a light, stroking touch.
a brief encounter: He has already had one brush with the law.
a close approach, especially to something undesirable or harmful: a brush with disaster.

verb (used with object)

to sweep, paint, clean, polish, etc., with a brush.
to touch lightly in passing; pass lightly over: His lips brushed her ear.
to remove by brushing or by lightly passing over: His hand brushed a speck of lint from his coat.

verb (used without object)

to move or skim with a slight contact.

Verb Phrases

brush aside, to disregard; ignore: Our complaints were simply brushed aside.
brush off, to rebuff; send away: She had never been brushed off so rudely before.
brush up on, to revive, review, or resume (studies, a skill, etc.): She's thinking of brushing up on her tennis.Also brush up.

Origin of brush

1
1350–1400; (noun) Middle English brusshe, probably to be identified with brush2, if orig. sense was implement made from twigs, etc., culled from brushwood; (v.) Middle English brushen to hasten, rush, probably < Old French brosser to travel (through brush), verbal derivative of broce (see brush2)

Related formsbrush·a·ble, adjectivebrush·er, nounbrush·like, adjectiveun·brush·a·ble, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for brush off

brush off

verb (tr, adverb)

to dismiss and ignore (a person), esp curtly

noun brushoff

an abrupt dismissal or rejection

brush

1

noun

a device made of bristles, hairs, wires, etc, set into a firm back or handle: used to apply paint, clean or polish surfaces, groom the hair, etc
the act or an instance of brushing
a light stroke made in passing; graze
a brief encounter or contact, esp an unfriendly one; skirmish
the bushy tail of a fox, often kept as a trophy after a hunt, or of certain breeds of dog
an electric conductor, esp one made of carbon, that conveys current between stationary and rotating parts of a generator, motor, etc
a dark brush-shaped region observed when a biaxial crystal is viewed through a microscope, caused by interference between beams of polarized light

verb

(tr) to clean, polish, scrub, paint, etc, with a brush
(tr) to apply or remove with a brush or brushing movementbrush the crumbs off the table
(tr) to touch lightly and briefly
(intr) to move so as to graze or touch something lightly

Derived Formsbrusher, nounbrushlike, adjective

Word Origin for brush

C14: from Old French broisse, perhaps from broce brush ²

brush

2

noun

a thick growth of shrubs and small trees; scrub
land covered with scrub
broken or cut branches or twigs; brushwood
wooded sparsely populated country; backwoods

Word Origin for brush

C16 (dense undergrowth), C14 (cuttings of trees): from Old French broce, from Vulgar Latin bruscia (unattested) brushwood

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

Word Origin and History for brush off
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with brush off

brush off

Dismiss or rebuff, as in Roberta brushed off the poor reviews with a shrug, or You can't brush off a boyfriend and expect him to do you a favor. This expression, transferring sweeping off crumbs to a curt dismissal, was first recorded about 1820. However, it became common usage only in the 1930s. Also see give someone the air (brush off).

brush

In addition to the idioms beginning with brush

  • brush aside
  • brush off
  • brush up

also see:

  • give someone the air (brush off)
  • have a brush with
  • tarred with the same brush
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.