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From Middle English fyrebrand, fürbrond, equivalent to fire +‎ brand. Cognate with German Feuerbrand ‎(firebrand).



firebrand ‎(plural firebrands)

  1. An argumentative troublemaker or revolutionary; one who agitates against the current situation.
    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.
    • 2015 February 20, Jesse Jackson, “In the Ferguson era, Malcolm X’s courage in fighting racism inspires more than ever”, in The Guardian (London)[1]:
      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 on the huge pile of wood to start the traditional homecoming bonfire.