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verb bran·dish \ˈbran-dish\

Simple Definition of brandish

  • : to wave or swing (something, such as a weapon) in a threatening or excited manner

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of brandish

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to shake or wave (as a weapon) menacingly

  3. 2 :  to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner

Examples of brandish in a sentence

  1. She brandished a stick at the dog.

  2. 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 and Etymology 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, wave, flourish, brandish, thrash mean to wield or cause to move to and fro or up and down. swing implies regular or uniform movement <swing the rope back and forth>. wave usually implies smooth or continuous motion <waving the flag>. flourish suggests vigorous, ostentatious, graceful movement <flourished the winning lottery ticket>. brandish implies threatening or menacing motion <brandishing a knife>. thrash suggests vigorous, abrupt, violent movement <an infant thrashing his arms about>.

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>.



noun bran·dish

Definition of brandish

  1. :  an act or instance of brandishing


First Known Use of brandish


BRANDISH Defined for Kids


verb bran·dish \ˈbran-dish\

Definition of brandish for Students



  1. :  to wave or shake in a threatening manner

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