brush off

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brush off

1. verb Literally, to remove something by applying a sweeping stroke to it or the surface it's on, typically with one's hand. In this usage, a noun can be used between "brush" and "off" or after "off." Be sure to brush off that chair before you sit down. I stood up and brushed the crumbs off my shirt.
2. verb To casually, unexpectedly, or brusquely dismiss or ignore someone or something. In this usage, a noun can be used between "brush" and "off" or after "off." You can't just brush off the students' questions—they deserve answers. I haven't heard back from that company, so I guess they're brushing my complaint off.
3. verb To deflect or ignore something in order to remain unaffected by it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used between "brush" and "off." If you're going to write for a major publication, you need to be able to brush off criticism. So you made an error—just brush it off and try to do better next inning.
4. noun The act of casually, unexpectedly, or brusquely dismissing or ignoring someone or something. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. Be honest and tell John that you're not interested in dating anymore—don't just give him the brush-off. I haven't heard back from that company, so I guess my complaint is getting the brush-off.
See also: brush, off

brush someone off

1. Lit. to remove something, such as dust or lint, from someone by brushing. The bathroom attendant brushed Mr. Harris off and was rewarded with a small tip. The porter had never brushed off such a miserly man before.
2. Fig. to reject someone; to dismiss someone. (As if someone were mere lint.) He brushed her off, telling her she had no appointment. He brushed off Mrs. Franklin, who was only trying to be nice to him.
See also: brush, off

brush something off someone or something

 and brush something off
to remove something from someone or something by brushing. I brushed a little lint off her collar. I brushed off the lint that was on her collar.
See also: brush, off


Fig. rejection; being cast aside and ignored. (*Typically: get ~; give someone ~.) Don't talk to Tom. He'll just give you the brush-off. I went up to her and asked for a date, but I got the brush-off.

brush off

Dismiss or rebuff, as in Roberta brushed off the poor reviews with a shrug, or You can't brush off a boyfriend and expect him to do you a favor. This expression, transferring sweeping off crumbs to a curt dismissal, was first recorded about 1820. However, it became common usage only in the 1930s. Also see give someone the air (brush off).
See also: brush, off

brush off

1. To remove something from a surface by brushing: Brush off those crumbs from the breakfast table! There's some dust on the desk, but I'll just brush it off.
2. To clean or clear some surface by brushing it: Would you please brush off the picnic table?
3. To dismiss someone or something rudely: The store owner rudely brushed off the customer who wanted a refund. I'm mad that you brushed me off when I tried to make a helpful suggestion.
See also: brush, off


n. a dismissal; an act of ignoring someone. (see also give someone the brushoff.) I got the brushoff, but I can take it.
References in periodicals archive ?
DERMOT O'Leary will need to brush off his best duds when he hosts this year's Elle Style Awards.
To stand up for accountable government, the council had to do something it's seldom done before: brush off the special interests.
The woman, who has lived in the rural neighborhood of dirt roads and scattered homes south of Mojave since 1986, blames the dust on nearby property owners who grade the native brush off their lots.
Mr Howard tried to brush off his appeal to the far left, saying: "I'm in the business of building as wide a base of support for my beliefs and my policies as I can.
Brush off the meat and throw a little Cheez Whiz on top of that stain
He went on to brush off fears of a housing slump, insisting that the economy was in its best shape for 30 years.
Meanwhile, many shoppers brush off the warning and buy snacks with olestra.
PETE SAMPRAS may have brushed aside his first-round opponent but he has some way to go to brush off his 'boring' tag.
But he gets the brush off when her parents decide the attachment between child and feathered friend is too strong.
A forensic anthropologist from the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office carefully unearthed the body Monday afternoon from sandy soil behind dense brush off Lopez Canyon Road, about 1-1/2 miles north of Paxton Street.
Harris initially tried to brush off the importance of being named the Western Conference coach for the All-Star Game, but then quickly began reciting reasons why the Lakers have had a tougher schedule than the Sonics.