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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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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?
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
get down to brass tacks, to/let's
To arrive at the heart of the matter. Some think this late nineteenth-century term comes from Cockney rhyming slang for hard facts. Another possible and perhaps more likely source is the American general store, where a countertop was marked with brass tacks at one-yard intervals for measuring cloth, and “getting to brass tacks” meant measuring precisely. Still another theory is that in upholstered furniture, brass tacks were used to secure the undermost cloth, and to reupholster properly one had to strip the furniture to that layer. A mid-twentieth-century American synonym is to get down to the nitty-gritty, alluding to the detailed (nitty) and perhaps unpleasant (gritty) facts of the case. It was borrowed from black English, where it signified the anus and alluded to picking body lice (nits) from that body part. This association had been largely forgotten by the time the term was popularized by the 1964 hit song “The Nitty Gritty” by Shirley Ellis.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer