What It Means
1 : to shake or wave (something, such as a weapon) menacingly
2 : to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner
Michael appeared before the town council brandishing a petition signed by 500 people asking the town to increase funding for the public skate park.
"Our plates of crisply battered cod, chips and mushy peas and our drinks arrived and we set to. Atticus ate with his fingers…. 'Do you know how to use a knife and fork?' I said to him, purely out of interest. He said he did know and he picked them up and brandished them at me to prove it. The fork was in his right hand, the knife in his left. 'Bravo,' I said." — Jeremy Clarke, The Spectator, 21 July 2018
Did You Know?
Often when we encounter the word brandish in print, it is soon followed by a word for a weapon, such as knife or handgun. That's appropriate given the word's etymology: it is a descendant of the Middle English braundisshen, which derives, via brandiss- (a stem of the Anglo-French brandir), from brant, braund, meaning "sword." Nowadays you can brandish things other than weapons, however. The figurative usage of brandish rose alongside its earliest literal usage in the 14th century. When you brandish something that isn't a weapon (such as a sign), you are in effect waving it in someone's face so that it cannot be overlooked.
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of brandish: HLSFIROU.VIEW THE ANSWER
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