Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.



(See also ESSENCE.)

down to bedrock Down to basics or fundamentals; down to the essentials. Bedrock is literally a hard, solid layer of rock underlying the upper strata of soil or other rock. Thus, by extension, it is any foundation or basis. Used literally as early as 1850 in Nelson Kingsley’s Diary, the phrase appeared in its figurative sense by 1869 in Our New West by Samuel Bowles.

get down to brass tacks To get down to business; to get down to the essential or fundamental issues. Although the precise origin is unknown, this expression is said to have been originally a nautical phrase referring to the brass nails exposed during the cleaning of the hulls on early sailing ships. Brass was used to resist the corrosion of sea water in fastening metal sheathing to the hull. The phrase appeared as early as 1897 in Liars by H. A. Jones.

meat-and-potatoes Basic, fundamental, essential, main. Meat and potatoes have long been the basic ingredients of a traditional hearty meal.

It’s the meat-and-potatoes appeal—the old pull at the heartstrings—that’ll put us over at the box office. (S. J. Perelman, Listen to the Mocking Bird, 1949)

nitty-gritty The heart of a matter. This American slang term first appeared in 1963 as part of the Black militant slogan get down to the nitty-gritty.

The Negroes present would know perfectly well that the nitty-gritty of a situation is the essentials of it. (Time, August, 1963)

The phrase is conjectured to be an oblique reference to the small hard-to-remove nits or lice that are often found attached to the hair and scalp of poor ghetto-dwellers because of unclean living conditions.

nuts and bolts Basics, brass tacks, the nitty-gritty, the heart of the matter. Since literal nuts and bolts are essential parts of virtually any machine, it is only logical that figuratively they symbolize the essence or core of something, the practical basics. This expression, apparently of fairly recent coinage, dates from at least 1960.

His preference was for journalism. He learnt the nuts and bolts of his profession with the Montreal Gazette. (The Times, June, 1971)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Fundamentals - principles from which other truths can be derivedfundamentals - principles from which other truths can be derived; "first you must learn the fundamentals"; "let's get down to basics"
principle - a basic truth or law or assumption; "the principles of democracy"
ABC, ABCs, ABC's, first principle, first rudiment, rudiment, alphabet - the elementary stages of any subject (usually plural); "he mastered only the rudiments of geometry"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun basics, laws, rules, principles, essentials, cornerstones, axioms, first principles, rudiments, sine qua non (Latin) teaching small children the fundamentals of road safety
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002
bases de l’économie


[ˌfʌndəˈmɛntəlz] npl (= basics) → principes mpl de base
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


[ˌfʌndəˈmɛntlz] nplbasi fpl, fondamenti mpl, principi mpl fondamentali
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995
References in classic literature ?
The defects," he added, with a look at the ruined brick-work, "are merely basic and fundamental."
Throughout the previous pages I have been assuming -- what perhaps should have been laid down at the beginning as a distinct and fundamental proposition -- that every human being in Flatland is a Regular Figure, that is to say of regular construction.
Will it be said that the FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES of the Confederation were not within the purview of the convention, and ought not to have been varied?
Both these extremes are to be avoided; which will be done, if the league of Christians, penned by our Savior himself, were in two cross clauses thereof, soundly and plainly expounded: He that is not with us, is against us; and again, He that is not against us, is with us; that is, if the points fundamental and of substance in religion, were truly discerned and distinguished, from points not merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or good intention.
Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.
The fundamental principle on which it rests, that the empire is a community of sovereigns, that the diet is a representation of sovereigns and that the laws are addressed to sovereigns, renders the empire a nerveless body, incapable of regulating its own members, insecure against external dangers, and agitated with unceasing fermentations in its own bowels.
Besides the fundamental principle already hinted at, I demanded the fresh bloom of youth, pearly teeth, glossy ringlets, and the whole list of lovely items, with the utmost delicacy of habits and sentiments, a silken texture of mind, and, above all, a virgin heart.
For fear--that is man's original and fundamental feeling; through fear everything is explained, original sin and original virtue.
I think that what has permanent value in the outlook of the behaviourists is the feeling that physics is the most fundamental science at present in existence.
The most fundamental idea, the idea of existence, has not been received by me through sensation; indeed, there is no special sense-organ for the transmission of such an idea."
We thus see, that although there is a clear and fundamental difference between the mere adhesion of grafted stocks, and the union of the male and female elements in the act of reproduction, yet that there is a rude degree of parallelism in the results of grafting and of crossing distinct species.
And the worst of it was, and the root of it all, that it was all in accord with the normal fundamental laws of over-acute consciousness, and with the inertia that was the direct result of those laws, and that consequently one was not only unable to change but could do absolutely nothing.

Full browser ?