lightning-rod

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

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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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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