Definition of firebrand in US English:



  • 1A person who is passionate about a particular cause, typically inciting change and taking radical action.

    ‘a political firebrand’
    • ‘There were activist firebrands getting into loud political conversations with people who just wanted to belt back drinks with parasols in them.’
    • ‘His late grandfather, George, and his late father, Andreas, were both populist Socialist firebrands who became prime ministers.’
    • ‘One of the main themes which ran through the interview was a sense of pragmatism which one does not always associate with the poplar perception of left wing firebrands.’
    • ‘As is befitting of a 46-year-old, he looks more like a greying chartered accountant than a radical firebrand.’
    • ‘It's a feature of modern politics for some firebrand to declare that they're going to go into elected office and ‘clean things up’.’
    • ‘Its faculty and students included many antislavery firebrands, and a series of public lyceum debates soon gave Lane such a reputation as a hotbed of activism that in 1834 the trustees forbade further discussion of the matter.’
    • ‘After a period as a youthful firebrand in the Radical Party, he joined the Greens.’
    • ‘I ride the political coattails of the lobbyists and the firebrands.’
    • ‘If Franklin had lucked into a royal audience, might he have persuaded the King to ignore firebrands like Wilkes and do the right thing by America?’
    • ‘As Vermont governor, the liberal firebrand was a fiscal conservative with close ties to business’
    • ‘Faculty senate presidents, if I may say so myself, tend to be a responsible lot of leadership types, not firebrands, malcontents, or radicals.’
    • ‘Though by no means revolutionary firebrands, all rebel against the older generation.’
    • ‘Amongst our current crop of careerist politicians, we simply don't have enough firebrands with a passionate commitment to pursuing genuine social change.’
    • ‘But if everything goes to plan, it will be fourth time lucky for the former union firebrand who has pulled off a remarkable political and personal transformation.’
    • ‘Again, that is the sort of suggestion that I think some of the firebrands are putting out in public.’
    • ‘That's what thrust him and his classmates into the intersection of law and education with all of the zeal of firebrands.’
    • ‘Apart from anything else, it showed how superior they were to other nations, in being both generous and also resilient enough to be able to tolerate these firebrands among them.’
    • ‘His followers see in him a populist hero, but more than anything else he resembles a postmodern version of William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic firebrand whose demagoguery derailed the People's Party in 1896.’
    • ‘There's no sympathy for the firebrands because they did succeed, they did change the world, and when the culture concedes a little there's so much less to be angry about.’
    • ‘Come back tomorrow for how the firebrands of those revolutionary times saw the young Comrade Bob and how they strove to place him in the pantheon with Lenin and Lennon.’
    radical, revolutionary
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  • 2A piece of burning wood.

    • ‘He tied firebrands to the tails of 300 foxes to scare away his enemies.’
    • ‘Shadows flicked and he could hear the soft crackle of firebrands set into the walls around him, their soft light illuminating the brickwork and tapestries of the room.’
    • ‘When it comes to reducing vegetative fuel hazards, flame lengths and firebrands are the greatest concern.’
    • ‘In any case, it took a long time and a large number of men equipped with axes, swords, and firebrands to do such extensive damage that a whole community suffered economically.’
    • ‘Armoured figures started to head for the bridge, swords and firebrands ready.’