Get Down to Brass Tacks | What Does this Helpful Idiom Mean?

Last Updated on December 16, 2020

Have you ever heard someone say the term ‘get down to brass tacks’ and wondered what they were referring to? We are going to take a look at the meaning behind this saying and how we can use it in a conversation. We will also look at the history behind the term and where it originated from.

Get Down to Brass Tacks

‘Get Down to Brass Tacks’ Meaning

The meaning of the idiom ‘get down to brass tacks’ is to put your focus on the essentials or on the basic facts of a situation. To get down to the heart of a matter or the centre of an issue.

Origin of this idiomatic expression

There is not a definite known origin of the phrase ‘get down to brass tacks’ however there are a few different ideas to suggest where the term came from. One of these ideas is that the term came from the fact that literal brass tacks were an essential component in furniture upholstery. There is also the suggestion that the phrase comes from rhyming slang, in that brass tacks rhymes with facts.

“Get Down to Brass Tacks” Examples

Examples in Statements

A statement which is made to uncover the root cause of a problem.

  • ‘Stop talking all this nonsense, we are never going to solve this problem that way, you need to get down to brass tacks and tell me what the issue is.’

This is a statement made by someone asking for less useless information.

  • ‘I don’t need to know all is this, get down to brass tack.’

Conversation Examples

If you are interested to know how the phrase ‘get down to brass tacks’ would fit into a conversation, here are some examples of times it could be used and how it would sound.

This first example shows a conversation between a teacher and student.

  • Person 1: “You have been talking about the same point for an hour.”
  • Person 2: “Is it not making any sense?”
  • Person 1: “No, it’s not relevant to the matter at heart.”
  • Person 2: “OK, I’ll get down to brass tacks.”

A conversation between a police officer and victim to discuss a crime.

  • Person 1: “Can you explain to me why this has happened?”
  • Person 2: “Well it was 5am and it was raining outside…”
  • Person 1: “I don’t need all the minor details, just get down to brass tacks.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other ways in which you could express the same meaning as ‘get down to brass tack’ whilst using different wordings. Here are some examples of what you could say instead.

  • Get to the point
  • Stop skirting around the issue
  • Cut to the chase
  • Come to the point
  • Get down to business

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