Simple Definition of brandish
: to wave or swing (something, such as a weapon) in a threatening or excited manner
Full Definition of brandish
1 : to shake or wave (as a weapon) menacingly
2 : to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner
Examples of brandish in a sentence
She brandished a stick at the dog.
I could see that he was brandishing a knife.
Did You Know?
Most of the time when we encounter the word brandish in print, it is followed by a word for a weapon, such as "knife" or "handgun." That’s appropriate given the word’s etymology: it derives via Middle English braundisshen from brant, braund, the Anglo-French word for "sword." Nowadays you can brandish things other than weapons, however. The figurative usage of brandish rose alongside its earliest literal usage in the 14th century. When you brandish something that isn’t a weapon (such as a sign), you are in effect waving it in someone’s face so that it cannot be overlooked.
Origin of brandish
Middle English braundisshen, from Anglo-French brandiss-, stem of brandir, from brant, braund sword, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English brand
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of brandish
swing, sway, oscillate, vibrate, fluctuate, waver, undulate mean to move from one direction to its opposite. swing implies a movement of something attached at one end or one side <the door suddenly swung open>. sway implies a slow swinging or teetering movement <trees swaying in the breeze>. oscillate stresses a usually regular alternation of direction <an oscillating fan>. vibrate suggests the rapid oscillation of an elastic body under stress or impact <the vibrating strings of a piano>. fluctuate suggests constant irregular changes of level, intensity, or value <fluctuating interest rates>. waver stresses irregular motion suggestive of reeling or tottering <the exhausted runner wavered before collapsing>. undulate suggests a gentle wavelike motion <an undulating sea of grass>.
Definition of brandish
: an act or instance of brandishing
First Known Use of brandish
BRANDISH Defined for Kids
Definition of brandish for Students
: to wave or shake in a threatening manner
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up brandish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).