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

Fazeli fled the scene, but was arrested a short time later on charges of felony assault, criminal threats, brandishing a weapon and possession of a switchblade. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "California GOP House candidate used campaign sign to protect himself from knife attacker, investigator says," 11 Sep. 2018 Officers were initially dispatched to Arctic after reports that a man was brandishing a weapon and pointing it at people, police said. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Police deploy gas in Midtown standoff before arresting armed man," 13 July 2018 Both men pleaded guilty Feb. 1 in the case, Portis to a charge of brandishing a firearm during a violent crime and Brown to a charge of carjacking. Laura Mcknight,, "New Orleans men sentenced in Lower 9th Ward carjacking," 21 May 2018 Miguel Herrera, 32, is accused by authorities of allegedly brandishing a knife at the driver after following him to the station's restroom area on Thursday around 4:40 p.m., according to Sgt. Andy Nguyen,, "Bus driver threatened at knifepoint while at Metrolink stop, Burbank police say," 3 Apr. 2018 Heavily armed agents, some in bulletproof vests and brandishing long guns, could be seen entering an upscale townhome complex near Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Russ Bynum And Brendan Farrington, Fox News, "Sheriff: Gunman kills 2, then himself at video game tourney," 27 Aug. 2018 Berry said McClellan stayed in the car as the getaway driver while three accomplices went into the store brandishing firearms. Jason Meisner,, "Alleged getaway driver in robbery of Razny Jewelers in Hinsdale released on $150,000 bond," 27 Mar. 2018 Less than a week after 17 students and teachers were killed at a Florida high school, photos of a boy brandishing a gun appeared in the social media accounts of San Marcos High School students Monday, raising alarms at the North County campus. Deborah Sullivan Brennan,, "School threats multiply in wake of Florida shooting," 24 Feb. 2018 The hoodie-wearing gang seemed to engage in simple tactics: literally walk in, brandish no weapons, grab electronics, and run out. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "California Apple Store robbery gang stole over $1M in goods, cops say," 28 Sep. 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

6 Jan 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 \
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

Comments on brandish

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someone who never drinks alcohol

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