Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.
brush (something) under the mat
To ignore, deny, or conceal from public view or knowledge something that is embarrassing, unappealing, or damaging to one's reputation. The senator has been accused of trying to brush his former drug use under the mat. You need to stop brushing your problems under the mat. Nothing will get resolved like that!
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 against (someone or something)
To pass by and lightly touch someone or something. Be sure not to brush against this wall while the paint is still drying. Did you see the beautiful woman who just brushed against me?
See also: brush
1. To move someone or something out of one's path. A noun can be used between "brush" and "aside" or after "aside." The man brushed us aside so that he could board the bus. I brushed aside the curtain and entered the room.
2. To casually, unexpectedly, or brusquely dismiss or ignore someone or something. A noun can be used between "brush" and "aside" or after "aside." I know they're young, but you can't just brush their questions aside—they deserve answers. I haven't heard back from that company, so I guess they're brushing aside my complaint.
To remove something by applying a sweeping stroke to it or the surface it's on, typically with one's hand. A noun can be used between "brush" and "away" or after "away." I stood up and brushed the crumbs away from my shirt.
brush by (someone or something)
To quickly pass by and lightly touch someone or something. The man brushed by us so that he could board the bus. Be sure not to brush by this wall while the paint is still drying.
See also: brush
To remove something from fabric by brushing. A noun can be used between "brush" and "down" or after "down." I have three dogs, so I always have to brush down my clothes before I leave the house.
To mention something casually, offering few details. You can't just brush over the fact that you got engaged—tell me everything!
1. To refamiliarize oneself with a topic or issue. I need to brush up on factorials before attempting to teach them on Monday.
2. To improve the appearance of something. We need to brush up this old house before any prospective buyers get here.
brush over someone or something
Fig. to deal lightly with an important person or matter; to just barely mention someone or something. I want to hear more. You only brushed over the part I was interested in. You only brushed over the bit about your girlfriend. Tell us more about her.
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 someone or something aside
1. Lit. to push or shove someone or something out of the way. Don't just brush me aside. I almost fell over. I brushed aside the branch, not realizing it was poison ivy.
2. Fig. to cast someone or something away; to rid oneself of someone or something; to ignore or dismiss someone or something. You must not brush this matter aside. The clerk brushed aside the old man and moved on to the next person in line.
brush something away (from something)
to remove something from something by brushing; to get dirt or crumbs off something by brushing. He brushed a bit of lint away from Tom's collar. She brushed away the crumbs from the table.
brush something down
to clean and groom fur or fabric by brushing. Why don't you brush your coat down? It's very linty. I brushed down my trousers, and they looked much better.
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.
brush something up
to improve one's knowledge of something or one's ability to do something. (See also brush up (on something).) I need to brush my French up a little bit. I need to brush up my French.
brush up (on something)
to improve one's knowledge of something or one's ability to do something. I need to brush up on my German. My German is weak. I had better brush up.
Disregard, ignore, as in The teacher brushed aside our questions.
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. Clean, refurbish, as in We plan to get the house brushed up in time for the party. [c. 1600]
2. Also, brush up on. Review, refresh one's memory, as in Nell brushed up on her Spanish before going to Honduras, or I'm brushing up my knowledge of town history before I speak at the club. [Late 1700s]
1. To push or wave something or someone out of the way: I brushed aside the clutter and put my books on the desk. The police brushed the people aside to make way for the president.
2. To refuse to listen to someone or something; ignore someone or something: I continued to complain, but they brushed aside my protests. Whenever people try to bother me at a party, I just brush them aside.
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.
1. To collect or dispose of something by a using a brush: I brushed up the crumbs from the table. The kids brushed the leaves up into a pile and played in it.
2. To refresh something or improve its quality or appearance, especially superficially or modestly: You could brush up your resume with a few style changes. I haven't spoken Italian in many years, but if I brushed it up a little, I think I could speak very well.
3. brush up on To refresh or improve one's facility with something: I brushed up on my Spanish by reading newspapers from Mexico.