bran·dish | \ˈbran-dish \
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

Both men face charges of robbery and brandishing firearms during a crime of violence. Karen Farkas,, "Cuyahoga County voter turnout at 19.5 percent with two hours to go," 8 May 2018 The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office arrested a Gretna man accused of brandishing a pistol at a woman during a bout of road rage. Michelle Hunter,, "Gretna driver with road rage flashed gun at woman, JPSO said," 5 Mar. 2018 Cunningham, meanwhile, told investigators that Sanchez had brandished the gun during the break-in at the Villaderas brothers’ Conroe home. Robert Downen, Houston Chronicle, "Documents detail chaotic hours before kidnapping victim was killed by FBI," 26 Jan. 2018 Police say Hill brandished a handgun and refused to drop it when ordered, according to The New York Times, but his family disagrees. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "'Are y'all serious?' Jury gives 4 cents to family of black man killed by Florida cop," 1 June 2018 Evan Graham, 47, of Capitol Heights, Md., allegedly brandished handcuffs and harassed customers at a Whole Foods store in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Northwest Washington, D.C. around 5 p.m. Fox News, "Police impersonator slapped handcuffs on real cop before arrest, officials say," 11 Apr. 2018 At least one handgun was brandished during the incident, police said. Nereida Moreno,, "Two shot at house party near U. of I. campus," 21 Jan. 2018 Imagine if a referee had come out, looking important and brandishing a yellow card in the middle of his pre-shot routine. Ben Dirs For Cnn, CNN, "Golf's slow play row rumbles on, but is there a quick fix?," 23 Mar. 2018 There, two other suspects approached the victim before brandishing knives and demanding their property. Michael Brice-saddler, Washington Post, "D.C. police make several arrests in unrelated robberies throughout the District," 8 July 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


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


see brandish entry 1

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Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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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 \
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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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