a 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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
If the brass hats want to play, let them raid London and harass the Home Counties.
MUCH to the chagrin of Ministry of Defence brass hats, who love a good war (or even a bad one), NATO chiefs have decreed hostilities will cease in Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
If Mr Ainsworth really wants the sacrifice and commitment of our armed forces to be properly appreciated, the people he needs to lecture are his own brass hats,.
Those at the bottom on the National Minimum Wage get pounds 12,000 a year - so Whitehall mandarins and MoD brass hats now on pounds 200,000 will still get megabucks.
Just as the generals in the First World War refused to accept the mental breakdowns of men serving in the trenches, today's Whitehall brass hats bury their heads over the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Bullying, right-wing, warmongering MoD brass hats get huge pensions, peerages, jobs with the Tories and lucrative jobs with defence contractors.
And if the Government doesn't know where to get the money from, it could find it by getting rid of the regiments of brass hats enjoying a life of luxury behind their desks in Whitehall.
In the long-term interests of the nation, and to save the lives of British squaddies, Gordon Brown must reject the brass hats' insatiable demands for men, money and material, with the possible exception of helicopters.
Now comes the latest edict from Ministry of Defence brass hats operating from the comfort of their desks in Whitehall.
He's cowed by retired generals and thuggish brass hats in the MoD into ever-increasing military spending.
Dunlop faces a major confrontation with Ulster brass hats at next Saturday's Cookstown 100th road race over the modifications to his 125cc Honda and he said: "I have taken out a Southern licence after the way the Ulster Centre messed me about last year and are continuing to do so this season.
Brown must press ahead with this reform, because if the military brass hats have their way, we will be at war somewhere all the time.
I say privately, because his remarks were solely intended for MoD brass hats, made public only after a Freedom of Information request.
British justice must prevail, not the gung-ho firepower of politicians and brass hats in Washington.
The brass hats in Whitehall, and retired Colonel Blimps aplenty, are loud in their demands for preferential treatment in every conceivable context, from taxpayers' money to luxury accommodation.