brass hat

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a brass hat

Someone with a lot of authority, power, or influence in a group or organization. When I was a brass hat, I used to charge the most outrageous things to the company credit card. You'll only get a truthful answer if you manage to talk to the brass hats.
See also: brass, hat
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

brass hat

A high-ranking official, as in All the brass bats were invited to the sales conference. The terms big brass, top brass, and the brass all refer to high officials considered as a group. For example, John's one of the top brass in town-he's superintendent of schools. The origin of this term is disputed. Most authorities believe it originated in the late 19th-century British army, when senior officers had gold leaves on their cap brims. Another theory is that it referred to the cocked hat worn by Napoleon and his officers, which they folded and carried under the arm when indoors. In French these were called chapeaux à bras ("hats in arms"), a term the British are supposed to have anglicized as brass. By World War I brass hat referred to a high-ranking officer in Britain and America, and in World War II it was joined by the other brass phrases. After the war these terms began to be used for the top executives in business and other organizations.
See also: brass, hat
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

brass hat

n. a member of the brass. A brass hat came up to me and asked me where I was going.
See also: brass, hat
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

top brass, the

The highest-ranking officials or executives in an organization. The expression is generally thought to come from the late-nineteenth-century British army, when senior officers had gold oak leaves decorating the brim of their caps. John Ciardi, however, proposed another etymology, from the cocked hat worn by French officers in Napoleon’s time, which was folded and carried under the arm (in French, chapeaux à bras) while indoors; Ciardi believed the British changed bras to brass, and referred to officers as brass hats. By World War II both that term and top brass were in common use and afterward were transferred to peacetime officialdom as well. Thus, “The top police brass spreads out a hot carpet for the local cops” (Philadelphia Bulletin, 1949).
See also: top
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
He swept through in the final 100 yards to win by an ever-widening margin from the brave Brass Hat. Dettori was full of praise for his mount, saying: "I wanted to be in the boxes at but I wasn't travelling as well as the others.
"Willie Martinez aboard Brass Hat said, "He spotted that other horse [Electrocutionist] and he was coming back.
Coral bet: 11-10 Electrocutionist, 5-1 Kane Hekili, Brass Hat, 6-1 Super Frolic,10-1 Magna Graduate, 14-1 Choctaw Nation, 22-1 Wilko, 25-1 Star King Man,40-1 bar.
Ecstatic Dettori had the worst draw in the pounds 2 million Dubai World Cup and looked in trouble as the field turned into the straight and American raider Brass Hat and English-trained Wilko went for home.
Also notable is a sister to Jeremy Noseda's Poule d'Essai des Pouliches third Rahiyah (126) and a Sky Mesa half-sister to the popular Grade 1 winner Brass Hat (737).
LANCE Corporal Angela Inglis is a 27- year-old clerk in the Adjutant General's office, the Army brass hat responsible for recruitment and promotion.
Curlin will break from the rail against nine rivals that include Grade 1 winners Brass Hat - second in Electrocutionist's World Cup only to be disqualified over a medication issue - and Einstein, plus Grade 3 winner Grasshopper.
Today, Daaher bids to justify his own trip to the Gulf against a field also featuring Brass Hat, who won the Donn two years ago before chasing home Electrocutionist at Nad Al Sheba (though he was disqualified over a medication mix-up).
Arrow, a 10-1 chance, came from between horses in the straight to outfinish Brass Hat by nearly a length under Ramon Dominguez, as favourite Istan could finish only fourth.
Brass Hat In Dubai, Takeover Target in Hong Kong, even Deep Impact at the Arc: all of them fell foul of local medication regulations.
Suffolk Downs Massachusetts Handicap 1m1f Brass Hat, ridden by Willie Martinez, hooked up with pacesetter Fairbanks just before entering the straight and won a stirring battle with that rival by three-quarters of a length to continue his comeback story.
Suffolk Downs Massachusetts Handicap 1m 1f dirt Evening Attire has a third crack at the 'Mass Cap', where his rivals include Fairbanks and Brass Hat. Pat Kelly, trainer of Evening Attire, said:
The race was rated around the third, Diamond Stripes (111), and the sixth Brass Hat (105), who both ran within a couple of pounds of their ratings in the Whitney, while fourth-placed Corinthian (110) got closer to his early season form after a below-par effort in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont last time out.
Coral: 2 Lawyer Ron, 9-2 Corinthian, 6 Diamond Stripes, Magna Graduate, 7 Wanderin Boy, 8 Political Force, 9 Brass Hat, 14 Sun King
The forecast rain won't worry Brass Hat's trainer Buff Bradley, as his six-year-old bids to make a spectacular comeback to the top level after career-threatening injury.