brick v. (generally) to fail; (of a person) to commit an error or do poorly; (especially in sports) to miss or fail to reach a target, goal, or destination; (of a musical recording) to fail to be successful or sell well; to stiff; (of an electronic device) to be rendered useless. Editorial Note: A thing that has failed can be called a brick. The phrase to drop a brick, meaning to commit a verbal faux pas, dates to at least as early as 1923, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, although Eric Partridge, in the appendix to his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (p. 1379) recounts an anecdote that purports to date the phrase drop a brick ‘make a mistake’ to a single specific event in 1905 at Trinity College, Cambridge. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

  1. Ben Zimmer says:

    The verb “brick” goes back a bit earlier in basketball usage (where a “brick” is a missed free throw).

    net.sport.hoops: June 11, 1985. He shot air balls, missed BIG 4th quarter shots, bricked free throws, turned the ball over and got burned on D over and over.

  2. Carl Burnett says:

    I bet you’d find dozens of citations for “butt rock” in the archives of music publications like SPIN.  I’ve definitely read it before.

  3. Carl Burnett says:

    Sorry, left that on the wrong page, obvs.

  4. Whatever happened to the meaning of ‘brick’ that was some sort of good person, or a steady friend.
    I remember a camp movie with the line, “Mona, you’re a brick.”

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