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From Middle English brasen, from Old English bræsen ‎(brazen, of brass), equivalent to brass +‎ -en (compare golden).[1]

Sense was originally literally “of brass”; figurative verb sense "brazen it out" (face impudently) from 1550s, and adjective sense “impudent” from 1570s. Figurative sense perhaps evoking “face unmoving, not showing shame”.



brazen ‎(comparative more brazen, superlative most brazen)

  1. (archaic) Pertaining to, made of, or resembling brass (in color or strength).
    • 1786, Francis Grose, A Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons, page 31.
      Brazen or rather copper swords seem to have been next introduced; these in process of time, workmen learned to harden by the addition of some other metal or mineral, which rendered them almost equal in temper to iron.
    • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Gods of Mars[1], HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2008:
      ... an open sea, its blue waters shimmering beneath the brazen sun.
  2. Sounding harsh and loud, like brass cymbals or brass instruments.
  3. (archaic) Extremely strong; impenetrable.
  4. Shamelessly shocking and offensive; impudent; barefaced; immodest; or unblushing.
    Brazen enough to spit on one of her students during class and wipe it in with her hand.

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brazen ‎(third-person singular simple present brazens, present participle brazening, simple past and past participle brazened)

  1. (transitive) To carry through in a brazen manner. Generally used with out or through.
    • W. Black.
      Sabina brazened it out before Mrs. Wygram, but inwardly she was resolved to be a good deal more circumspect.

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  1. ^ brazen” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).