SPLASH or SLASH? [brass tacks]

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Nov 22 19:44:00 UTC 2007

On Nov 22, 2007 4:33 AM, neil <neil at typog.co.uk> wrote:
> > Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> >
> > What is the evidence that "brass tacks" is "rhyming slang" for "facts"?
> Julian Franklyns' 'A Dictionary of Rhyming Slang', Routledge, 1960 states
> that it is Cockney rhyming slang [where 'facks', as it would be pronounced,
> then rhymes with 'tacks'].
> But then he comments: "Of 19.C origin, it had become naturalized in America
> by 1903, and many people believe it to have been imported here from
> America."

I believe the date to beat for "brass tacks" in the US is 1863:


Nothing that early has been found in the UK, which casts the
rhyming-slang origin in serious doubt.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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