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

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 Get ready to brandish your favorite light saber, perfect your Wookie imitation and climb aboard your TARDIS to head out to Discovery World this Saturday, Sept. 30 for its annual Sci-Fi Family Day. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Geek out with light saber fights, character photos and more at Discovery World's Sci Fi Day," 21 Sep. 2017 The suspect then came outside, allegedly brandishing a weapon at the officer, and the officer fired, police said. Joyce Smith, kansascity, "Lawrence officer fires shot during standoff with suspect; officer placed on leave," 30 June 2018 The mass arrests of protesters after Sterling's death spawned lawsuits that accused police of using excessive force and advancing against peaceful protesters while wearing military gear and gas masks and brandishing assault weapons. Michael Kunzelman And Anthony Izaguirre,, "No charges in fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by Louisiana police," 27 Mar. 2018 The mass arrests of protesters after Sterling's death spawned lawsuits that accused police of using excessive force and advancing against peaceful protesters while wearing military gear and gas masks and brandishing assault weapons. Robert Rhoden,, "Suspicious device causes shutdown at Pensacola airport: report," 27 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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Statistics for brandish

Last Updated

12 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

Comments on brandish

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