Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Subscribe

Archives



Jan 18, 2016
This week’s theme
Clothing terms used metaphorically

This week’s words
brass hat
sackcloth
straitlaced
sansculotte
bootleg

brass hat
Chiefs of North Dakota National Guard and Togolese Armed Forces

Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

If you have ever wondered why a petticoat is called a petticoat, here’s the scoop. It is, literally, a petty coat. Or used to be. In the beginning it was an undercoat worn by men. Over time, it jumped from men to women. And then it slipped from shoulders to waist. That’s language for you. Don’t try to make sense of it.

And, whatever you do, do not look for much logic in it. Or claim that because a word meant such and such earlier, it should mean the same today.

This week we’ll discuss words related to clothing that are used metaphorically. And like petticoat, we’ll start from the top and start sliding down as the week progresses.

brass hat

PRONUNCIATION:
(bras hat)

MEANING:
noun: A high-ranking official, especially from the military or police.

ETYMOLOGY:
From the gilt insignia worn on the cap. Also see brass ring, brass collar, brassy. Earliest documented use: 1887.

USAGE:
“‘I don’t understand why a brass hat from the police would want to talk to me,’ I tell him. ‘I’m just a passing academic.’”
Shashi Warrier; The Girl Who Didn’t Give Up; Tranquebar Press; 2015.

See more usage examples of brass hat in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
If triangles had a God, he would have three sides. -Charles de Montesquieu, philosopher and writer (18 Jan 1689-1755)

A.Word.A.Day by email:

Subscribe

"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace."

The New York Times

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2016 Wordsmith