English edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English fyr-brand, furbrond, equivalent to fire +‎ brand. Cognate with German Feuerbrand (firebrand).

Pronunciation edit

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈfaɪə.bɹænd/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈfaɪɚ.bɹænd/
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Noun edit

firebrand (plural firebrands)

  1. (figurative) An argumentative troublemaker or revolutionary; one who agitates against the status quo.
    Synonyms: radical, revolutionary, troublemaker
    The member of the college's Communist League was a firebrand who would launch a sit-in or protest march at a moment's notice.
    • 2011 February 22, Daniel J. Wakin, “Free Trove of Music Scores on Web Hits Sensitive Copyright Note”, in New York Times[1]:
      At the same time, Mr. Irons said, it is important to separate “this very valiant and completely kosher and clean repository of public material, which we perfectly endorse, and this kind of firebrand ‘We want to show the publishers they’re wrong’ kind of attitude.”
    • 2015 February 20, Jesse Jackson, “In the Ferguson era, Malcolm X’s courage in fighting racism inspires more than ever”, in The Guardian (London)[2]:
      Both Malcolm and King were firebrands. And both were disciplined organisers of people. Malcolm was able to channel the anger of a crowd into action, but then to ensure they did not descend into violence.
  2. A torch or other burning stick with a flame at one end.
    The crowd cheered as a firebrand was tossed onto the huge pile of wood to start the traditional homecoming bonfire.
    • 1807, François Rabelais, Mr. Ozell (John), Sir Thomas Urquhart, The Works of Francis Rabelais - Volume 2 - Page 182:
      [] he filled all their throats with it, so that those poor wretches were by it made to cough like foxes, crying, Ha, Pantagruel, how how thou addest greater heat to the firebrand that is in us.
    • 1868, George Swinnock, Works - Volume 2 - Page 212:
      He that is inebriated with passion is unfit for any action; like Samson's foxes, he scattereth firebrands abroad, to the hurt of all that are near him.

Translations edit