• brazen •
bray-zên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Impudently bold, aggressive, rude, brassy. 2. Having a loud, harsh sound. 3. (Archaic) Made of brass; resembling brass in color or strength.
Notes: This word presents no problems at all—it is even spelled the way it is pronounced. The adverb and noun are the usual ones, brazenly and brazenness.
In Play: Today's word refers to an utter lack of civility: "With brazen disregard for other theater-goers, Ali Katz answered a cellphone call in the middle of the movie." It also has an overtone of daring: "Horace ran a brazen dope business while he was in jail for running one outside."
Word History: Today's Good Word was, in Old English, bręsen "made of brass" from bręs "brass". By Middle English it had become brasen "made of brass" and, finally, what it is today. The English verb braze may have originally meant "to harden in fire"; today it means "to hard solder". This means it could be related to Old Swedish brasa "fire" and Danish brase "to roast". English still has a verb braise "to sauté then simmer in liquid". This would place it as a descendant of French braiser "to stew", which French borrowed from some Germanic language. Germanic inherited the word from PIE bhreu- "burn, heat", which became brew, bread, broth in English. (Our old friend Chris Stewart was brazen enough to suggest today's shiny, brassy Good Word.)
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