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 his ultra-competitive streak also made him a lightning rod on campus. Gregory Korte, USA Today, "The rise of Rick Singer: How the mastermind of college admissions scandal built an empire on lies, exploited a broken system," 19 June 2019 For Americans of a certain age, Chappaquiddick is a lightning rod of controversy, with people’s opinions about who was at fault often falling along largely political lines. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Chappaquiddick’s screenwriters on stumbling unwittingly into Kennedy controversy," 16 Apr. 2018 China has become a lightning rod in Washington, where the Trump administration has traded barbs, tariffs and threats of further trade actions with Beijing. Andrew Tangel, WSJ, "Who Bought That Plane? Airshow Buyers Seek Discretion Amid Trade Tensions," 18 July 2018 Yet as the process rolls on, the former Louisville star is a lightning rod in more ways than one. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Lamar Jackson breaking mold by going without agent into NFL draft," 4 Apr. 2018 In the decades since the last draft in 1973, talk of restarting the system has been a cultural lightning rod. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "Why a Judge Ruled the Males-Only Military Draft Unconstitutional," 25 Feb. 2019 Before that, however, the boy was turned over at age 7 to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Orphaned, Delinquent, Incorrigible and Wayward Boys at the behest (and expense) of his father, a barkeep and onetime seller of lightning rods. Katherine A. Powers, WSJ, "‘The Big Fella’ Review: American Hit Parade," 5 Oct. 2018 But when Julia Roberts opened that envelope and revealed that this year's winner was Green Book—the 1960s-set race relations drama which has become a lightning rod for controversy since its November release—the online reaction was swift and brutal. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Green Book Won Best Picture and Twitter Is Not Happy," 25 Feb. 2019 The Central American caravan is just the latest lightning rod issue in an increasingly divisive immigration debate. Cindy Carcamo, latimes.com, "Some Americans offer to open up their homes to Central American asylum seekers," 29 Apr. 2018

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

22 Jun 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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