verb bran·dish \ ˈbran-dish \
|Updated on: 4 Aug 2018

Definition of brandish

brandished; brandishing; brandishes
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

brandish was our Word of the Day on 05/05/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of brandish in a Sentence

  1. She brandished a stick at the dog.

  2. I could see that he was brandishing a knife.

Recent Examples of brandish from the Web

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.

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

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




Definition of brandish

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

Origin and Etymology of brandish

BRANDISH Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of brandish for English Language Learners

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

BRANDISH Defined for Kids


verb bran·dish \ ˈbran-dish \

Definition of brandish for Students

brandished; brandishing
: to wave or shake in a threatening manner

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having an air of easy unconcern

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