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

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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?


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.

Examples of brandish in a Sentence


She brandished a stick at the dog. I could see that he was brandishing a knife.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The 60-year-old prop stylist and interior decorator, who had recently walked Comey’s spring show, brandished silver-wheat curls that looked radically fresh. Lauren Mechling, Vogue, "Should I Break Up With My Hair Colorist to Go Gray?," 22 Mar. 2019 On Monday, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesperson Mohammed Radmanish told a news conference in Kabul that aerial footage and images showed the Taliban gathered at a compound with vehicles and motorcycles brandishing Taliban and Pakistani flags. NBC News, "Children feared dead as Afghan airstrikes targeting Taliban kill dozens," 4 Apr. 2018 The woman, filmed in a widely viewed video posted on Twitter, stood bareheaded on top of a tall box, brandishing her white scarf before passersby. Ladane Nasseri,, "Iran Chides Police for Using Force Against Female Veil Protester," 25 Feb. 2018 In 1977, members began to brandish guns in their yard, declaring that they would no longer be beaten or intimidated by law enforcement. Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, "The History of the Black Radical Group MOVE and Its Infamous Bombing by Police," 17 May 2019 However, referee Jesus Gil Manzano deemed there to be no contact and subsequently brandished the Frenchman a yellow card; which, on reflection, seemed a dubious decision, at best before the 34-year-old Spaniard brought an end to the first half., "Atletico Madrid 3-0 Levante: Clinical Atleti Down Relegation Strugglers as Simeone's Men March On," 15 Apr. 2018 The threat was accompanied by what appears to be a stock image of a man wearing a mask and brandishing a gun. Alyson Ward, Houston Chronicle, "HISD police investigating Meyerland school shooting threat," 8 Apr. 2018 Others have resorted to costume hair or invented other ways to brandish the ‘stache. Kurt Pitzer,, "Rally 'Staches! Russians Conjure Up Mustaches to Support Their Underdog Team at the World Cup," 19 June 2018 Referee Ted Unkel failed to brandish the red card in what appeared to be the denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity with no other defenders back (VAR had a chance to have its say, too, and didn't), much to the disapproval of the visiting team. Avi Creditor,, "The MLS XI, Week 15: Au Revoir, Patrick Vieira," 11 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for brandish

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for brandish

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

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More Definitions for brandish



English Language Learners Definition of brandish

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


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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More from Merriam-Webster on brandish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with brandish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brandish

Spanish Central: Translation of brandish

Nglish: Translation of brandish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brandish for Arabic Speakers

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