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1. verb Literally, to remove something by applying a sweeping stroke to it or the surface it's on, typically with one's hand. In this usage, a noun can be used between "brush" and "off" or after "off." Be sure to brush off that chair before you sit down. I stood up and brushed the crumbs off my shirt.
2. verb To casually, unexpectedly, or brusquely dismiss or ignore someone or something. In this usage, a noun can be used between "brush" and "off" or after "off." You can't just brush off the students' questions—they deserve answers. I haven't heard back from that company, so I guess they're brushing my complaint off.
3. verb To deflect or ignore something in order to remain unaffected by it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used between "brush" and "off." If you're going to write for a major publication, you need to be able to brush off criticism. So you made an error—just brush it off and try to do better next inning.
4. noun The act of casually, unexpectedly, or brusquely dismissing or ignoring someone or something. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. Be honest and tell John that you're not interested in dating anymore—don't just give him the brush-off. I haven't heard back from that company, so I guess my complaint is getting the brush-off.
brush someone off
1. Lit. to remove something, such as dust or lint, from someone by brushing. The bathroom attendant brushed Mr. Harris off and was rewarded with a small tip. The porter had never brushed off such a miserly man before.
2. Fig. to reject someone; to dismiss someone. (As if someone were mere lint.) He brushed her off, telling her she had no appointment. He brushed off Mrs. Franklin, who was only trying to be nice to him.
brush something off someone or somethingand brush something off
to remove something from someone or something by brushing. I brushed a little lint off her collar. I brushed off the lint that was on her collar.
Fig. rejection; being cast aside and ignored. (*Typically: get ~; give someone ~.) Don't talk to Tom. He'll just give you the brush-off. I went up to her and asked for a date, but I got the 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).
1. To remove something from a surface by brushing: Brush off those crumbs from the breakfast table! There's some dust on the desk, but I'll just brush it off.
2. To clean or clear some surface by brushing it: Would you please brush off the picnic table?
3. To dismiss someone or something rudely: The store owner rudely brushed off the customer who wanted a refund. I'm mad that you brushed me off when I tried to make a helpful suggestion.