from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To wave or flourish (a weapon, for example) menacingly.
  • transitive v. To display ostentatiously. See Synonyms at flourish.
  • n. A menacing or defiant wave or flourish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To move or swing a weapon back and forth, particularly if demonstrating skill.
  • v. To bear something with ostentatious show.
  • n. The act of flourishing or waving.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A flourish, as with a weapon, whip, etc.
  • transitive v. To move or wave, as a weapon; to raise and move in various directions; to shake or flourish.
  • transitive v. To play with; to flourish.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To move or wave, as a weapon; raise and move in various directions; shake or flourish about: as, to brandish a sword or a cane.
  • Figuratively, to play with; flourish: as, “to brandish syllogisms,”
  • To move with a flourish; toss.
  • n. A shake or flourish, as of a weapon.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. move or swing back and forth
  • n. the act of waving
  • v. exhibit aggressively


Middle English brandissen, from Old French brandir, brandiss-, from brand, sword, of Germanic origin; see gwher- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested 1340, from Old French brandiss-, from brandir ("to flourish a sword") (see brand). (Wiktionary)



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  • Perhaps they were arrested for impersonating activists?

    November 7, 2009

  • "During the G-20 summit in the Pittsburgh area last week, police arrested two activists. These particular activists weren’t breaking windows. They weren’t setting cars on fire. They weren’t even parading around brandishing giant puppets and chanting anti-capitalist slogans."
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    November 6, 2009