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

Verb She brandished a stick at the dog. I could see that he was brandishing a knife.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Gilbert Ware, 86, is accused of walking into a Bank of America branch in Greenville, South Carolina, brandishing a firearm, and stealing an undisclosed amount of cash. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "86-year-old man charged in masked bank robbery," 14 Jan. 2020 Layton claimed a suspicious man was banging on his door and brandishing a firearm. Trevor Fraser,, "Lakeland man shot by police in apparent ‘suicide-by-cop,’ according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd," 29 Nov. 2019 Police disputed Ahmad's claim after reviewing video and finding no evidence of Morris brandishing a firearm. Doha Madani, NBC News, "Video captures Florida store owner firing at customer with AK-47," 9 Oct. 2019 Aggravated robbery: Brookpark Road An unidentified male, brandishing a knife and wearing a ski mask, tried to rob Shell gas station, 13030 Brookpark, at about 2:20 a.m. Nov. 18. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Man in ski mask fails in robbery attempt at Shell; boy shatters windshield with baby in backseat: Brook Park police blotter," 6 Dec. 2019 An Oviedo Police Department officer who faced criticism from an anonymous tipster after a video surfaced of her juvenile son brandishing a gun has been fired, the agency said Thursday. Jeff Weiner,, "Oviedo officer-in-training whose son posed with gun in video fired, department says," 21 Nov. 2019 The ranger used his radio to call for assistance, brandished a stun gun and halted the attack. George Tanner, The Denver Post, "Two men, teen assault Colorado State Park ranger at Boyd Lake State Park," 24 Aug. 2019 The charge stems from a road rage incident on the Dallas North Tollway in Plano on Oct. 20 in which White brandished a gun at a fellow driver. Drew Davison, star-telegram, "Cowboys' White faces assault charges for brandishing gun in road rage incident; attorney says he's innocent," 9 July 2018 Then, the stage is taken over by another character, Old West Sadie (Deborah Randall), who bursts from the tent brandishing a revolver and carrying a coil of rope. Dave Sturm, Columbia Flier, "At Laurel's Venus Theatre, a woman's wry perspective across four centuries," 16 Mar. 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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Time Traveler for brandish

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for brandish

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Brandish.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for brandish


How to pronounce brandish (audio)

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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Comments on brandish

What made you want to look up brandish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


dull or mediocre

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