firebrand

noun fire·brand \ ˈfī(-ə)r-ˌbrand \
Updated on: 17 Nov 2017

Definition of firebrand

1 : a piece of burning wood
2 : one that creates unrest or strife (as in aggressively promoting a cause) : agitator

firebrand was our Word of the Day on 03/22/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of firebrand in a Sentence

  1. a firebrand who urged crowds to riot during the blackouts

Recent Examples of firebrand from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'firebrand.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

The original firebrands were incendiary indeed; they were pieces of wood set burning at the fire, perhaps for use as a light or a weapon. English speakers started brandishing those literal firebrands as long ago as the 13th century. (Robinson Crusoe held one high as he rushed into a cave on his deserted island and saw by the light of the firebrand . . . lying on the ground a monstrous, frightful old he-goat.) But the burning embers of the wooden firebrand quickly sparked figurative uses for the term, too. By the early 14th century, firebrand was also being used for one doomed to burn in hell, and by 1382, English writers were using it for anyone who kindled mischief or inflamed passions.

First Known Use of firebrand

14th century


FIREBRAND Defined for English Language Learners

firebrand

noun

Definition of firebrand for English Language Learners

  • : a person who tries to get people to become angry and to do things for a political or social cause



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