Why is a prostitute called a brass. I had a friend who talked and knew cockney rhyming slang and he said it went with nail, brass nail. However I can't see any connection there. Any ideas?
'Nail' rhymes with 'tail'... 'nuf said?
Well, "brass" with "ass" but I couldn't attribute such an etymology to it, in fact, I haven't found any record of that slang applying that way. In America, "brass" has a slang extension to high military rank, who have, in sense, prostituted themselves, but nothing more definite than that metaphor. "Nail," in American slang again, does refer to the sexual act, and does impart a phallic symbolism, but "brass" is particularly hard to reconcile, unless it truly is a mere intensifier to "nail" which rhymes with "tail" which is, itself, a euphamism. Does anybody have an source material?
I suppose the "brass" could quite possibly derive from a well enough known word for money. Here in Yorkshire it has long been a word for money. The two together then make sense.
"where ther's muck ther's brass.
trans "Where there is dirt there is money".

Another Cockney slang term for tail is 'alderman's nail', but I don't know whether that has the same connotation as the brass variety.

As for rhyming 'brass' with 'ass' -- that may work for our friends in the US or in Yorkshire, but in London you're more likely to find the slang terms 'Khyber Pass' or 'bottle and glass' rhymed with 'arse'.

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