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SAT vocabulary: brazen

Image of two males pointing guns at each other to illustrate the vocabulary word "brazen".
Those outfits are the most brazen of all.


What does “brazen” mean?

Part of Speech: ADJECTIVE or VERB

Pronunciations: IPA: /ˈbreɪ.zən/ Glossary-style: [BRAY-zuhn]

Definition: adj: bold, shameless (Ex: a brazen theft of money in view of many people). made of brass. having a harsh sound when struck, like the sound of brass when struck. verb: (often used with “out” or “through”) face a problem or challenge with courage, lack of embarrassment, or defiance.

Example: The brazen bank robbery in broad daylight shocked the small town and awoke them to the problems of crime found more commonly in the big cities.

Discussion: The word “brazen” is of course related to the word “brass”, the metal alloy typically consisting of two parts copper and one part zinc. Brass is harder than copper, but still has an appealing yellowish color and is used in plumbing and decorative metals such as dresser knobs, military medals, and the like.

Not surprisingly, we have many expressions and idioms relating to the hardness and durability of brass (“brass monkey”, and “brass tacks”, to name two). And we also have the word “brazen” as an adjective, which essentially means bold or fearless.

We may talk about brazen crimes committed without fear of recrimination or even brazen social acts, such as ignoring one’s superiors or being rude in formal situations.

One final note—the verb “to brazen” is much less common, at least in Standard American English, than the adjective. I don’t recall ever using “brazen” as a verb myself, nor do I recall seeing it used. But you can’t know too many words, right?

By Erin Billy

Founder of TestMagic, Inc. in San Francisco, USA.

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