I once watched some American TV show, and there was a guy, who just woke up, and he said: "I need to brush myself up". It was clear that he was going to go to the bathroom to take a shower and etc., but I didn't manage to find some examples of using that idiom that way, is that really common phrase? Or was that kind of slang or something? I know only "brush up on something".

  • You need to give a reference (show name/episode/time marker and a link to the original. Otherwise we're all just going on your guess what they said.
    – Mitch
    Apr 1, 2019 at 21:21
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    This doesn't sound natural to me at all. Yes, one might brush one's hair in the morning, but you don't say it like this and you don't refer to the general getting ready in the morning with 'brush'.
    – Mitch
    Apr 1, 2019 at 21:23
  • I would give a reference, but I just don't remember the title; it was one of those TLC reality shows. Maybe that guy just was really sleepy... :)
    – DanBi
    Apr 2, 2019 at 7:12
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    The idiom 'a wash and brush-up' is very familiar to me, but according to the dictionary it is only used in British English - collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/brush-up Apr 2, 2019 at 8:24
  • @StanDan was it city or country? Family or young adult? Low class or upper class? Anything else you can say?
    – Mitch
    Apr 2, 2019 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


I'm American. I've never heard that. I've heard, "I need to brush up" or "I need to go brush up," which means, "I need to brush my teeth." People often say this in the morning because they often wake with bad breath or with a bad taste in their mouth.

The verb phrase "brush up" in the above sense is intransitive, not reflexive, so you wouldn't ever say the reflexive pronoun "myself" with it.

If you click that link and scroll down to "brush up," you will see it is transitive when it refers to refreshing your knowledge about something and so can take an object like "myself," albeit it requires the addition of the preposition "on" if you do. Without "on,: transitively, the object is what's being reviewed (e.g., "I'm going to brush up my writing skills," albeit "I'm going to brush up on my writing skills" is also correct.). So, my point is, you're right about that. Saying "myself" with "brush up" denotes refreshing your knowledge or memory by reviewing related materials.

  • I speak AmE. All my life I've heard/used brush up on (something). I've never used the phrase without the on. Could this be a dialect thing or something newish? Apr 27, 2019 at 14:30

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