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Re: Getting down to brass tacks

Posted by James Briggs on March 29, 2000

In Reply to: Getting down to brass tacks posted by susan on March 29, 2000

: Would anyone be able to tell me where and how the phrase "getting down to brass tacks" was originated?

There are several possible origins for this saying, the simplest being that it is merely rhyming slang; brass tacks = facts.

More romantically it is possible that the origin is from the old time drapers' shops. These sold cloth off the roll and by the yard. A yard was actually marked out on the counter with brass tacks. When the deal was concluded and the purchase about to be cut the roll was laid against the marks ie down to the brass tacks.

A further suggestion is that the tacks were those used in upholstery. Any renewal of the fabric meant that the piece of furniture had to stripped down to the brass tacks.