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

  • n. A grounded metal rod placed high on a structure to prevent damage by conducting lightning to the ground.
  • n. One that attracts and absorbs powerful, typically negative feelings and reactions, thereby diverting interest from other issues: "[His] business dealings have become a lightning rod for criticism” ( Walter Shapiro).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A metallic conductor that is attached to a high point of a building and leads to the ground and protects the building from damage by lightning
  • n. A person or thing that is a target for negative reactions and distracts criticism from another target.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a metallic rod set up on a building, or on the mast of a vessel, and connected with the earth or water below, for the purpose of protecting the building or vessel from lightning.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A pointed, insulated metallic rod erected to protect a building or a vessel from lightning; a lightning-conductor. ;

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

  • n. a metallic conductor that is attached to a high point and leads to the ground; protects the building from destruction by lightning
  • n. someone who is a frequent target of negative reactions and serves to distract attention from another


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • A day after that thumping Bush dumped his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who had become a lightning rod for all the dissatisfactions surrounding the Iraq War, and installed in his place the consummate Washington insider, former CIA director Robert Gates.

    The Longest War

  • Three miles away the soaring lightning rod of Pad 39B, designed to protect space shuttles from lightning strikes, provided a sight line toAtlantis.

    Riding Rockets


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