brush off Unabridged


1 [bruhsh]
an implement consisting of bristles, hair, or the like, set in or attached to a handle, used for painting, cleaning, polishing, grooming, etc.
one of a pair of devices consisting of long, thin handles with wire bristles attached, used in jazz or dance bands for keeping a soft, rhythmic beat on the trap drums or the cymbals.
the bushy tail of an animal, especially of a fox.
a conductor, often made of carbon or copper or a combination of the two, serving to maintain electric contact between stationary and moving parts of a machine, generator, or other apparatus.
a feathery or hairy tuft or tassel, as on the tip of a kernel of grain or on a man's hat.
an act or instance of brushing; application of a brush.
a light, stroking touch.
a brief encounter: He has already had one brush with the law.
a close approach, especially to something undesirable or harmful: a brush with disaster.
verb (used with object)
to sweep, paint, clean, polish, etc., with a brush.
to touch lightly in passing; pass lightly over: His lips brushed her ear.
to remove by brushing or by lightly passing over: His hand brushed a speck of lint from his coat.
verb (used without object)
to move or skim with a slight contact.
Verb phrases
brush aside, to disregard; ignore: Our complaints were simply brushed aside.
brush off, to rebuff; send away: She had never been brushed off so rudely before.
brush up on, to revive, review, or resume (studies, a skill, etc.): She's thinking of brushing up on her tennis. Also, brush up.
get the brush, to be rejected or rebuffed: She greeted Jim effusively, but I got the brush.
give the brush, to ignore, rebuff, etc.: If you're still angry with him, give him the brush.

1350–1400; (noun) Middle English brusshe, probably to be identified with brush2, if orig. sense was implement made from twigs, etc., culled from brushwood; (v.) Middle English brushen to hasten, rush, probably < Old French brosser to travel (through brush), verbal derivative of broce (see brush2)

brushable, adjective
brusher, noun
brushlike, adjective
unbrushable, adjective

8. engagement, action, skirmish. See struggle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
brush off
1.  to dismiss and ignore (a person), esp curtly
2.  an abrupt dismissal or rejection

brush1 (brʌʃ)
1.  a device made of bristles, hairs, wires, etc, set into a firm back or handle: used to apply paint, clean or polish surfaces, groom the hair, etc
2.  the act or an instance of brushing
3.  a light stroke made in passing; graze
4.  a brief encounter or contact, esp an unfriendly one; skirmish
5.  the bushy tail of a fox, often kept as a trophy after a hunt, or of certain breeds of dog
6.  an electric conductor, esp one made of carbon, that conveys current between stationary and rotating parts of a generator, motor, etc
7.  a dark brush-shaped region observed when a biaxial crystal is viewed through a microscope, caused by interference between beams of polarized light
8.  (tr) to clean, polish, scrub, paint, etc, with a brush
9.  (tr) to apply or remove with a brush or brushing movement: brush the crumbs off the table
10.  (tr) to touch lightly and briefly
11.  (intr) to move so as to graze or touch something lightly
[C14: from Old French broisse, perhaps from brocebrush²]

brush2 (brʌʃ)
1.  a thick growth of shrubs and small trees; scrub
2.  land covered with scrub
3.  broken or cut branches or twigs; brushwood
4.  wooded sparsely populated country; backwoods
[C16 (dense undergrowth), C14 (cuttings of trees): from Old French broce, from Vulgar Latin bruscia (unattested) brushwood]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"dust-sweeper," late 14c., from O.Fr. broisse (Mod.Fr. brosse) "a brush" (13c.), perhaps from V.L. *bruscia "a bunch of new shoots" (used to sweep away dust), perhaps from P.Gmc. *bruskaz "underbrush." As a verb, attested from mid-15c. Brush off "rebuff, dismiss" is from 1941.

"shrubbery," early 14c., from Anglo-Fr. bruce "brushwood," O.N.Fr. broche, O.Fr. broce "bush, thicket, undergrowth" (12c., Mod.Fr. brosse), from Gallo-Romance *brocia, perhaps from *brucus "heather," or possibly from the same source as brush (1). The verb meaning "to move
briskly" especially past or against something or someone (1670s) probably belongs here, on the notion of a horse, etc., passing through dense undergrowth, but brush (1) probably has contributed something to it as well.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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