lightning rod


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

One new requirement for churches is the installation of a lightning rod, after a lightning strike in March killed 16 worshippers and injured 140 at a Seventh-Day Adventist church in the country’s south. Washington Post, "Rwanda closes thousands of churches in bid for more control," 4 Apr. 2018 Image Now that facial recognition has become a new lightning rod for critics, Microsoft is taking the lead in calling for some regulatory restraint. New York Times, "Microsoft Urges Congress to Regulate Use of Facial Recognition," 13 July 2018 In the Menswear Designer of the year category, Jebbia was up against talents that run the gamut from couture-like perfectionists (Thom Browne) to cultural lightning rods (Raf Simons) to masters of re-contextualization (Virgil Abloh). Steff Yotka, Vogue, "You Won’t Find America's Menswear Designer of the Year at NYFW Men’s," 9 July 2018 The New Jersey native was rewarded with a round-of-16 clash between Colombia and England, which became a heated affair, with the referee a lightning rod for criticism from Colombian players. Avi Creditor,, "American Referee Mark Geiger in Contention to Work World Cup Final," 9 July 2018 Four other towers are climbing nearby, making 181 Fremont seem like part of a thicket rather than the architectural lightning rod suggested by the diagonal beams that culminate in a 50-foot spiked spire at one corner. John King,, "New nimble, frisky SoMa tower fits neatly into surroundings," 6 July 2018 Barbie’s physicality has been a lightning rod ever since. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Can Barbie Really Have It All?," 1 May 2018 Even as Brazil comfortably completed the first part of its summer to-do list, easing effortlessly in the round of 16, its biggest star continued to be a lightning rod for attention and criticism. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Is Neymar really Brazil's 'problem child'?," 28 June 2018 Kobach’s campaign confirmed Wednesday that the musician and lightning rod conservative will appear at the Lenexa Community Center on June 23 for a Kobach campaign event. Hunter Woodall, kansascity, "Ted Nugent headed to Lenexa for Kobach's gubernatorial campaign," 30 May 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

9 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for lightning rod

The first known use of lightning rod was in 1773

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More Definitions for lightning rod

lightning rod


English Language Learners Definition of lightning rod

: 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

See words that rhyme with lightning rod Encyclopedia article about lightning rod

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playful or foolish behavior

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