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Possibly ultimately derived from broomstick wedding, with broomstick meaning ersatz or sham. Often said to be derived from early British or Romani wedding practices, in which a couple could become married outside the Church by leaping a broom or brush, but no evidence exists for such a ceremony.


live over the brush

  1. (Northern England, idiomatic) To cohabit without being married.
    • 1982, Peter Tinniswood, The Home Front, page 10:
      I know what people think about the North. They think it's all muck and living over the brush with women like Elsie Tanner.
    • 1991, Punch, volume 300, page 134:
      After the birth of their son, Stanley, the couple moved to Bradford and "lived over the brush" in West Bowling in a back-to-back terraced house.
    • 2013, Gilda O'Neill, Just Around the Corner, →ISBN:
      I was saying to my Albert, I wouldn't be surprised if him and that so-called wife of his was living over the brush.