bran·​dish | \ ˈbran-dish How to pronounce brandish (audio) \
brandished; brandishing; brandishes

Definition of brandish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to shake or wave (something, such as a weapon) menacingly brandished a knife at them
2 : to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner brandishing her intellect



Definition of brandish (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of waving something menacingly or exhibiting something ostentatiously or aggressively : an act or instance of brandishing

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Did you know?

Often when we encounter the word brandish in print, it is soon followed by a word for a weapon, such as knife or handgun. That's appropriate given the word's etymology: it is a descendant of the Middle English braundisshen, which derives, via brandiss- (a stem of the Anglo-French brandir), from brant, braund, meaning "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.

Examples of brandish in a Sentence

Verb She brandished a stick at the dog. I could see that he was brandishing a knife.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Travis Barker similarly went sans shirt beneath his sleeveless black blazer—the better to brandish his generous tattoos. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, 4 Apr. 2022 The White House is enlisting popular dating apps to encourage Americans to brandish their vaccination status in exchange for a better shot at love., 20 May 2021 In New York, hundreds gathered in Times Square to brandish the Ukrainian flag, while protesters in D.C. mobilized in front of the Russian Embassy. Washington Post, 24 Feb. 2022 In other words, the Kremlin leader got to brandish his nukes. Nathan Hodge, CNN, 19 Feb. 2022 The majority of officers never brandish their guns and even fewer fire them in the line of duty, according to Gold. Ivan Pereira, ABC News, 17 Feb. 2022 For the first five episodes, Thomas has been depicted as a quiet man who knows just the right time to share a pearl of wisdom — or brandish his gun. Lynette Rice,, 30 Jan. 2022 His estranged wife, Tasha Adams, also testified in court earlier this week that Rhodes had been abusive toward their children and would regularly brandish guns in their house, the judge noted. Katelyn Polantz, CNN, 26 Jan. 2022 Some brandish them on sidewalks while others see them as investments, keeping them box-fresh until resale. Jamie Waters, WSJ, 14 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brandish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of brandish


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1601, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for brandish

Verb and Noun

Middle English braundisshen, from Anglo-French brandiss-, stem of brandir, from brant, braund sword, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English brand

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Time Traveler for brandish

Time Traveler

The first known use of brandish was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near brandish

bran disease



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Last Updated

12 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Brandish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for brandish


bran·​dish | \ ˈbran-dish How to pronounce brandish (audio) \
brandished; brandishing

Kids Definition of brandish

: to wave or shake in a threatening manner


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