lightning rod

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English[edit]

The lightning rod

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Noun[edit]

lightning rod (plural lightning rods)

  1. A metallic conductor that is attached to a high point of a building and leads to the ground to protect the building from damage by lightning.
    • 1856, Herman Melville, The Lightning Rod Man:
      "My special business is to travel the country for orders for lightning-rods. This is my specimen rod;" tapping his staff; "I have the best of references"-fumbling in his pockets. "In Criggan last month, I put up three-and-twenty rods on only five buildings."
  2. (figurative) A person or thing that is a target for negative reactions and distracts criticism from another target.

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