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brass tacks

The most important, fundamental, basic, or immediate facts, priorities, or realities of a situation. Used primarily in the phrase, "come/get down to brass tacks." We eventually got down to brass tacks and came up with a solution. Look, let's come down to brass tacks and decide how to handle the situation. The brass tacks are these: if you don't win this district, you won't win the election.
See also: brass, tack

a change of tack

A change or reverse in one's position, opinion, or course of action. Likened to the act of tacking in a sailboat, in which the boat is brought into the wind so as to change direction. Following low approval ratings, the president had a change of tack regarding his immigration policy. Our sales are doing very poorly; we need a change of tack if we're going to survive the year.
See also: change, of, tack

down to brass tacks

Focused on the most important aspects of a particular situation. Often used in the phrase "get down to brass tacks." Let's get down to brass tacks so that everyone has a good grasp on the project overall before we split up to do our separate parts. Don't get overwhelmed with this case, just get down to brass tacks.
See also: brass, down, tack

get down to brass tacks

Fig. to begin to talk about important things; to get down to business. Let's get down to brass tacks. We've wasted too much time chatting. Don't you think that it's about time to get down to brass tacks?
See also: brass, down, get, tack

tack something down

to fasten something down with small nails. Someone had better tack this carpet down. Please tack down this carpet.
See also: down, tack

tack something onto something

 and tack something on
to add something onto something. The waiter kept tacking charges onto my bill. He tacked on charge after charge.
See also: tack

tack something up

to fasten something onto something with tacks. The drapes started to fall, so we tacked them up again. Please tack up these posters.
See also: tack, up

get down to brass tacks

to start talking about the basic facts of a situation Let's get down to brass tacks - who's going to pay for all of this?
See also: brass, down, get, tack

(as) sharp as a tack

very intelligent He may be old in years, but he's still as sharp as a tack and knows what he's talking about.
See also: sharp, tack

tack on something

also tack something on
to add something that is extra or does not belong When we got the bill there was an extra 18% tacked on as a service charge. You should ask that question at the meeting and not tack it on to an e-mail.
See also: on, tack

get down to brass tacks

to start talking about the most important or basic facts of a situation
Usage notes: Brass tacks is Cockney rhyming slang (= an informal kind of language said to be used in parts of London) for facts.
Let's get down to brass tacks. Who's paying for all of this?
See also: brass, down, get, tack

be as sharp as a tack

  (American)
to be very intelligent He may be old, but he's still as sharp as a tack.
See also: sharp, tack

spit nails

  (American & Australian informal) also spit chips/tacks (Australian informal)
to speak or behave in a way that shows you are very angry He was spitting nails when he saw what had happened to his car.
See also: nail, spit

change tack

  also try a different tack
to start using a different method for dealing with a situation, especially in the way that you communicate I've been very pleasant with them so far but if they don't cooperate, I may have to change tack. Instead of always asking him what he wants, why don't you try a different tack and tell him what you want?
See also: change, tack

get down to brass tacks

Also, get down to bedrock or the nitty gritty or cases . Deal with the essentials; come to the point. For example, Stop delaying and get down to brass tacks, or We really need to get down to bedrock, or He has a way of getting down to the nitty gritty, or Let's get down to cases. The origin of the first phrase, dating from the late 1800s, is disputed. Some believe it alludes to the brass tacks used under fine upholstery, others that it is Cockney rhyming slang for "hard facts," and still others that it alludes to tacks hammered into a sales counter to indicate precise measuring points. The noun bedrock has signified the hard rock underlying alluvial mineral deposits since about 1850 and has been used figuratively to denote "bottom" since the 1860s. The noun nitty-gritty dates from the mid-1900s and alludes to the detailed ("nitty") and possibly unpleasant ("gritty") issue in question. The noun cases apparently alludes to the game of faro, in which the "case card" is the last of a rank of cards remaining in play; this usage dates from about 1900. Also see to the point.
See also: brass, down, get, tack

go fly a kite

Also, go chase yourself or climb a tree or jump in the lake or sit on a tack or soak your head . Go away and stop bothering me, as in Quit it, go fly a kite, or Go jump in the lake. All of these somewhat impolite colloquial imperatives date from the first half of the 1900s and use go as described under go and.
See also: fly, kite

on the right tack

Also, on the right track. Proceeding satisfactorily; also, following the correct line of reasoning. For example, He thinks the housing market is improving, and he's on the right tack there, or That's not exactly so, but you're on the right track. The first term alludes to the direction of a sailboat, the second to the direction of a path. The same is true of the antonyms, on the wrong tack and on the wrong track, indicating an erroneous assumption or course of action. For example, He's on the wrong tack for finding a solution, or The researchers were on the wrong track altogether when they assumed the virus was transmitted by mosquitoes . The expressions using tack date from about 1900; those using track date from about 1880.
See also: on, right, tack

on the wrong tack

Also, on the wrong track. See under on the right tack.
See also: on, tack, wrong

sharp as a tack

Also, sharp as a razor. Mentally acute. For example, She's very witty-she's sharp as a tack. These similes are also used literally to mean "having a keen cutting edge" and have largely replaced the earlier sharp as a needle or thorn. The first dates from about 1900, the variant from the mid-1800s.
See also: sharp, tack

tack on

v.
1. To attach something to a surface using a tack, pin, or nail: I tack my children's drawings on the kitchen door. The teacher set up a big corkboard, and each child tacked on a poem.
2. To add or append something additional: The hotel tacked on a five percent service fee. I read my essay again and tacked an introduction on.
See also: on, tack

tack up

v.
1. To post something with or as if with a tack: I tacked up a poster of my favorite band. The teacher tacked the best students' essays up on the wall.
2. To outfit a horse with a harness and saddle: The cowboy tacked up the horse. We can take the horses out for a ride after you've tacked them up.
See also: tack, up

brass tacks

n. essential business. (Usually in get down to brass tacks.) Now that we are talking brass tacks, how much do you really want for this watch?
See also: brass, tack

coffin nail

1. and coffin tack n. a cigarette. (Coffin nail is very old.) You still smoking them coffin nails? Every coffin tack you smoke takes a little off the end of your life.
2. n. a drink of liquor. How about another coffin nail?
See also: coffin, nail

coffin tack

verb
See also: coffin, tack

go fly a kite

Get lost! Kite flying is an activity that is done far less now than in previous centuries. Accordingly, “go fly a kite!” is heard far less than “get lost!” “take a hike!” and “get your ass out of here!” (or something stronger).
See also: fly, kite
References in periodicals archive ?
Last year a rider tacked on to the Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bill by Rep.
The PHLX Semiconductor Index (SOX) has tacked on more than one percent ahead of mid-quarter updates due out from Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Altera (ALTR), and Xilinx (XLNX) later this week.
Thanks to an analyst upgrade to "strong buy" from "neutral," Robert Half International (NYSE:RHI) has tacked on more than six percent in trading.
With more than half an hour left before the end of trading, the SPX has tacked on almost half a percent, reclaiming control of the 1,170 level as a result.
As we approach the final hour of trading this afternoon, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) has tacked on nearly one percent in trading, but has been stopped by resistance at its declining 10-day moving average.
50 percent, Bebe Stores (BEBE) is up six percent, American Eagle Outfitters (AEOS) has added three percent, and Children's Palace (PLCE) has tacked on roughly three percent.