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 Ferebee said he was fired for unrelated reasons — he was accused of not following enrollment rules last academic year, a lightning rod issue in the District — but the dismissal fueled fears that the city was glossing over safety concerns. Washington Post, "How D.C. and its teachers, with shifting plans and demands, failed to reopen schools," 27 Nov. 2020 The scene, broadcast on national television, became a lightning rod for concerns about football and the coronavirus. David Wharton, Los Angeles Times, "No bubble means no assurances NFL and college football schedules aren’t disrupted," 6 Dec. 2020 Blinken’s nomination eschewed one of the most controversial State Department hopefuls — Susan Rice, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who became a lightning rod following her inaccurate account of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Rubio derides Biden's foreign policy team: 'Polite and orderly caretakers of America's decline'," 24 Nov. 2020 The damaging effects of fast fashion became a global lightning rod following the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. Heather Taylor-singh,, "These BIPOC Fashion Influencers Are All About Sustainability & People Need To Listen," 9 Nov. 2020 But Abrams, a former state House minority leader, is also a Republican lightning rod. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Stacey Abrams may hurt Raphael Warnock more than help him in Georgia Senate race," 9 Dec. 2020 Perhaps no star player has been more of a lightning rod than Westbrook. New York Times, "What’s the Deal With Russell Westbrook?," 4 Dec. 2020 Mayor Erin Stewart is floating the idea of a nonbinding referendum on what to do with the 14-foot-high bronze monument that’s become a political lightning rod. Don Stacom,, "New Britain mayor suggests a public vote to resolve dilemma over Columbus statue," 24 Nov. 2020 The famous family has always been a bit of a lightning rod. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Feel-good content is what we need right now. You're welcome," 5 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for lightning rod

Time Traveler

The first known use of lightning rod was in 1773

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Statistics for lightning rod

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lightning rod.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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

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