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

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 Redesign troubles The redesign became a lightning rod. Maureen Farrell, WSJ, "Evan Spiegel’s Imperious Style Made Snapchat a Success—Until Users Fled," 23 Dec. 2018 The moves made him a lightning rod for controversy. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Pruitt steps down as EPA head after ethics, management scandals," 6 July 2018 The moves, coupled with Pruitt’s penchant for secrecy, made him a lightning rod for controversy. Brady Dennis, Washington Post, "Scott Pruitt steps down as EPA head after ethics, management scandals," 5 July 2018 The arrests of the men, who investigators allege plotted the girl's abduction as a means of scaring the predominately-Muslim nomads into vacating the region, has proved a lightning rod in a part of India simmering with religious tension. Steve George, CNN, "'Question your sons' says Indian PM Modi amid ongoing rape outrage," 19 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

27 Apr 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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