get down to brass tacks
Unknown. Earliest attestation in 1863 US, specifically Texas. A theory is that it comes from the brass tacks in the counter of a hardware store or draper’s shop used to measure cloth in precise units (rather than holding one end to the nose and stretching out the arm to approximately one yard).
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- 1863, January 21, 1863, The Tri-Weekly Telegraph, newspaper of Houston, Texas
- When you come down to brass tacks – if we may be allowed the expression – everybody is governed by selfishness.
- 1935, Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty
- That's no answer. Get down to brass tacks.
- 1972, Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
- Let's get down to brass tacks. How much for the ape?
- 1994, Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, Pulp Fiction
- You must be Jules, which would make you Vincent. Let’s get down to brass tacks, gentlemen. If I was informed correctly, the clock is ticking. Is that right, Jimmie?
- "Brass tacks" in Michael Quinion, Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds, 2004.