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lightning rod

a rodlike conductor installed to divert lightning away from a structure by providing a direct path to the ground.
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 of lightning rod
1780-90, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lightning-rod
Historical Examples
  • A friend of mine in a Southern city tells me of a red-headed woodpecker that drums upon a lightning-rod on his neighbor's house.

    A Year in the Fields John Burroughs
  • When it was nearing completion, the question arose, should they put on a lightning-rod.

    Preventable Diseases Woods Hutchinson
  • Nay, be a lightning-rod peddler or a book agent, before you set your heart upon it that you shall write for a living.

  • Buying this ticket is like buying a lightning-rod; it may draw off the lightning!

    The Trimming of Goosie James Hopper
  • It is even said that he made here his first experiment with a lightning-rod.

  • You never need a lightning-rod, because it never thunders and it never lightens.

    Roughing It Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • I was up stairs in a second, and down the lightning-rod in another one, and shinning through the dark for the lean-to.

    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • But most important of all in building up his reputation was the lightning-rod.

    The True Benjamin Franklin Sydney George Fisher
  • The lightning-rod was the outcome of Franklin's observations, and this was the first practical invention relating to electricity.

    The Story of Great Inventions Elmer Ellsworth Burns
  • All the heavy metal of the house should be a part of the lightning-rod.

lightning-rod in Science
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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Slang definitions & phrases for lightning-rod

lightning rod


Someone or something that draws the attention, esp criticism, for an issue or problem: press secretary is the lightning rod for the President

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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