Bold as brass

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The idiom bold as brass dates back to the 1700s. We will look at the meaning of the phrase bold as brass as well as the hotly contested origin story. In addition, we will examine some examples of the idiom’s use in sentences.

The idiom bold as brass describes someone who exudes extreme confidence, someone who is brazen or very forward. The term bold as brass is ascribed to the Lord Mayor of London in the 1770s, Brass Crosby. Crosby defied the House of Parliament by supporting the printing of a pamphlet regarding the proceedings of Parliament. The phrase bold as brass was first recorded in  Life’s Painter of Variegated Characters in Public and Private Life by George Parker published in 1789, some time after the incident involving Brass Crosby. Some say this disproves the link between Crosby and the idiom bold as brass, others say it reinforces the link. In fact, the word brass was used to mean boldness or brazenness for at least forty years before the appearance of Brass Crosby on the political scene. The idiom bold as brass reached the zenith of its popularity in the early 1900s.


“What I can’t get my head around is why there is this line, bold as brass on the front of the pack, saying it is both photoelectric and ionised?” he said. (The Manawatu Standard)

There was the burglar, bold as brass, looking straight through the window of the house he was about to break into and, unbeknown to him, straight into the small security camera the homeowner had installed. (The Peterborough Telegraph)

There’s even deep-fried brie, there, bold as brass on the menu, in case you were in any doubt. (The Belfast Telegraph)