Bold as Brass Meaning
Definition: Extremely confident and indifferent to people’s opinions.
This expression means that one is so bold and sure of one’s self to the point of rudeness and disrespect. One believes that he is so superior, that the normal social conventions don’t apply to him. This person is brazen, shameless, or forward.
Origin of Bold As Brass
Bold and brass were used in English literature in close proximity for decades in the first half of the 18th century but seem to not have been used together until 1789, in George Parker’s Life’s Painter of Variegated Characters in Public and Private Life:
- He died damn’d hard and as bold as brass.
Parker added a note of explanation saying the phrase was “commonly used among the vulgar upon returning from an execution.”
This is a clear reference to 1770s London magistrate Brass Crosby, who published several pamphlets revealing some of the proceedings of the House of Parliament, thereby breaching the rules of parliamentary privilege.
Crosby was arrested and sent to execution, but the public supported his actions and begged him to be released, which he was. The story was so popular that Parker was able to make a cultural reference and join the words in a phrase that has been used ever since.
An alternative origin story refers to the fact that brass shines like gold, but it does not anywhere near the comparable value. People who act bold as brass are not of the quality they think they are.
Examples of Bold As Brass
In the modern day people describe someone irritatingly arrogant as bold as brass.
- He walked up to me bold as brass and asked for my number.
- A pair of bold as brass thieves stole an Audi by dressing as police officers and tricking its owner into handing over the keys. –Scottish Daily Record
- Liz Truss has told how, when she saw barrister Falconer in a corner sporting whiskers, she bowled up to him bold as brass and asked: “Hello Charlie. Have you grown a beard so you can hide from me?” –Daily Mail
Someone who is, or acts, bold as brass is overly confident and disrespectful of normal social conventions.