lightning rod

noun
1.
a rodlike conductor installed to divert lightning away from a structure by providing a direct path to the ground.
2.
a person or thing that attracts and absorbs powerful and especially negative or hostile feelings, opinions, etc., thereby diverting such feelings from other targets: The unpopular supervisor served as a lightning rod for the criticism that should have been aimed at management.

Origin:
1780–90, Americanism

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
lightning conductor or lightning rod
 
n
a metal strip terminating in a series of sharp points, attached to the highest part of a building, etc, to discharge the electric field before it can reach a dangerous level and cause a lightning strike
 
lightning rod or lightning rod
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
lightning rod  
A grounded metal rod placed high on a structure to conduct electrical current from a lightning strike directly to the ground, preventing the currents from injuring people or animals or from damaging objects. Lightning rods usually have a sharp, pointed tip, since electric lines of force are more highly concentrated around pointed objects, in this case increasing the attractiveness of the rod compared with other nearby objects. See also Saint Elmo's fire.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

lightning rod

metallic rod (usually copper) that protects a structure from lightning damage by intercepting flashes and guiding their currents into the ground. Because lightning tends to strike the highest object in the vicinity, rods are typically placed at the apex of a structure and along its ridges; they are connected to the ground by low-impedance cables. In the case of a building, the soil is used as the ground; on a ship, the water is used.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Lightning protection for the station is provided by a lightning rod at the top
  of the tower.
Packer's blunt style made him a lightning rod for debate.
But he keeps for himself the role of lightning rod when flashes of white-hot
  rage fill his e-mail and voice-mail in-boxes.
Instead, by applying a pointed lightning rod the charge is dissipated slowly
  keeping the electrical potential difference low.
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