to shake or wave (as a weapon) menacingly
to exhibit in an ostentatious or aggressive manner
Protestors showed up on the steps of City Hall, brandishing a petition signed by 500 people demanding that the city not close the public skate park.
Did you know?
Most of the time when we encounter the word “brandish” in print, it is followed by a word for a weapon, such as “knife” or “handgun.” That’s appropriate given the word’s etymology: it derives via Middle English “braundisshen” from “brant, braund,” the Anglo-French word for “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.