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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

be as sharp as a tack

To be intelligent and a quick-thinker. Ted's as sharp as a tack, so he'll find a solution to this problem. Of course Ellen is our valedictorian—she's as sharp as a tack.
See also: sharp, tack

change tack

To employ a different method or approach in addressing a particular situation. They have not been receptive to our offers thus far, so we need to change tack. If diplomacy doesn't resolve this conflict, we will need to change tack and try a more aggressive approach.
See also: change, tack

(as) sharp as a tack

Intelligent and a quick-thinker. Ted's as sharp as a tack, so he'll find a solution to this problem. Of course Ellen is our valedictorian—she's as sharp as a tack.
See also: sharp, tack

tack on

To add something on to something else. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tack" or "on." Miss, can I tack a side of bacon onto my order? If you kids keep talking, I'll tack another essay onto your homework.
See also: on, 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

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

get down to brass tacks

If people get down to brass tacks, they begin to discuss the basic, most important aspects of a situation. To get down to brass tacks, what I want to know is, do you know anything at all about her mother's side of the family? Note: The usual explanation for this expression is that in Cockney rhyming slang `brass tacks' are facts.
See also: brass, down, get, 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 ?
Waters 1926, 400-01, identified the Norse origin of beiter (yet did not recognize the reflex in Wace's betas) but at the time of writing could scarcely have known of the tacking potential of Norse ships and so translates as 'to cruise', which entails a criss-cross course but not one intended to advance in a headwind.
URI), began production last week of its initial commercial product: plastic tacking strips for resale to the carpet trade.
NYSE:AOC) is leading the rally within the SPX this afternoon, tacking on almost six percent after the firm announced last night a $1 billion share buyback plan and reported promising U.
If this were done in the middle of the race course Sally could easily avoid Patsy by bearing away, by luffing or by tacking.
Available only to MLA members, the ASP program eliminates or reduces most traditional processor fees, passes MasterCard and Visa interchange rates directly through to the merchant without tacking on extra costs, and includes only a single monthly fee for processing based on processing volume.
If you tack first, you will twice have to bear off dead downwind after tacking, which is slow.
Available only to ARA/AHA members, the ASP program eliminates or reduces most traditional processor fees, passes MasterCard and Visa interchange rates directly through to the merchant without tacking on extra costs, and includes only a single monthly fee for processing based on processing volume.