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 Two males entered a convenience store, one brandishing a knife, the accomplice holding a handgun. Washington Post, "Crime reports for Anne Arundel and Howard counties and for Annapolis," 30 Oct. 2019 Peach said the man was aggressive, demanding money and brandishing a knife with a three-inch blade. Catherine Rentz,, "Four people stabbed at Hunt Valley shopping center, attacker shot dead by police, officials say," 29 Sep. 2019 Later in the video, which has been viewed more than 30,000 times on Facebook, the deputy brandishes his baton at a crowd that gathered around the arrest. Jeff Weiner,, "Deputy filmed yanking middle schooler’s hair pulled from school, faces termination, Orange sheriff says," 8 Nov. 2019 The men brandished their bills and performed a Nazi salute. Mireille Juchau, The New Yorker, "How Dreams Change Under Authoritarianism," 7 Nov. 2019 Tired of licking the skillet, workers are finding new ways to brandish it. The Economist, "The GM strike is an anachronism," 3 Oct. 2019 Police brandished handguns and fired water cannons into crowds in response to protesters throwing petrol bombs. Johnny Simon, Quartz, "Police use water cannons and draw guns as tensions rise in Hong Kong," 26 Aug. 2019 The younger man, Paco (Andres Velez), brandishes a gun and orders the two women to take care of his older cohort Ignacio (Manny Perez), who's bleeding from a gunshot wound. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Coyote Lake': Film Review," 31 July 2019 With that, Dillard loses it and starts banging her knife on the table before standing up and brandishing it in the air. Aurelie Corinthios,, "RHOP: Ashley Darby Slams Candiace Dillard for Claiming Husband Faked Crying Over Miscarriage," 21 June 2019

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

8 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Brandish.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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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).


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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