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firebrand is a passionate person who may enact change in a particular cause, commonly political or social. Sometimes this person is seen as a ramblerouser or troublemaker, capitalizing on unrest in a community. The term can also be used in a complimentary sense, that the person is good at instigating a change for the better.

It should always be used as one word and is a noun, though can be used in the adjective position as seen in the first example below.

A firebrand can also be a piece of burning wood.


Firebrand figures with extremist views about abortion laws, women’s rights and the family unit are controversially backing a families’ forum that three federal politicians are supporting. [News AU]

The cash infusions, announced this week, value the firebrand Brooklyn-based news agency at more than $2.5 billion. [CNN]

Seething South African firebrand Dale Steyn has revealed he may never forgive Michael Clarke for a personal sledge made by the Australian skipper during the Cape Town Test earlier this year. [SBS]

The grab for territory signals a change from Boko Haram’s hit-and-run tactics. This may be in keeping with pronouncements by its firebrand leader, Abubakar Shekau, that chunks of Borno state are “Muslim territory” in what appears to be an imitation of the caliphate proclaimed in parts of Iraq and Syria by Islamic State. [Economist]

Crackling embers and glowing firebrands might make for a romantic evening in front of the fireplace, but for homeowners in high fire-risk areas, windborne fire material is the stuff of nightmares. [NIST]