lightning rod

noun

Definition of lightning rod

1 : a grounded metallic rod set up on a structure (such as a building) to protect it from lightning
2 : one that serves to divert attack from another
3 : one that is a frequent target of criticism or focus of controversy she has become a convenient lightning rod for voters' discontent with law-and-order issues— Aric Press et al.

Examples of lightning rod in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

But American is the airline industry’s summer lightning rod. Kyle Arnold, orlandosentinel.com, "American Airlines struggles with delays, canceled flights," 29 Aug. 2019 But American is the airline industry's summer lightning rod. Dallas News, "Canceled flights, wrecked vacations and leaky planes: Passenger frustrations rise as American Airlines struggles," 23 Aug. 2019 How did these principles become such a lightning rod for controversy? Wendy Smith, BostonGlobe.com, "Seeing the world from the inside looking out in ‘Gods of the Upper Air’," 7 Aug. 2019 For her part, Omar seems content to embrace her role as provocateur, lightning rod and activist. Alana Abramson, Time, "'I Believe in My Work.' How Rep. Ilhan Omar Rose From Refugee to Trump's Top Target," 18 July 2019 The shocking news before the game was that captain Megan Rapinoe - the team’s onfield star, tied for the tournament’s goal-scoring lead, and its offfield lightning rod and outspoken leader - was out of the starting lineup. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "One more game for U.S. women, who will play for World Cup title," 2 July 2019 In another universe — or a decade ago — in which starring in a Woody Allen movie wasn’t a lightning rod for controversy, Gomez’s performance would probably been hailed as a turning point. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "PSA: Selena Gomez Should Be In More Movies," 15 June 2019 That is the kind of planning, predictability and attention to detail the president eschewed last time around, when his more impromptu and instinctual approach turned him into a political phenomenon and a cultural lightning rod. Alex Leary, WSJ, "Never Mind Those Tweets, Trump’s 2020 Re-Election Team Wants Order and Discipline," 14 June 2019 Raw milk trial Babcock could not have envisioned that the quality of milk, although in a very different context, would become a lightning rod more than a century after his innovation. Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Margarine smugglers, a deadly milk war and more flavor Wisconsin's dairy history," 28 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lightning rod.' 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 lightning rod

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

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The first known use of lightning rod was in 1773

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More Definitions for lightning rod

lightning rod

noun

English Language Learners Definition of lightning rod

US
: a metal rod that is placed on a building and connected with the ground below to protect the building from being damaged by lightning
: someone or something that attracts criticism or gets blamed when things go wrong

More from Merriam-Webster on lightning rod

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lightning rod

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lightning rod

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