brandishing an umbrella like a cane

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Senior Member
Here's a passage from Zadie Smith's novel On Beauty:

"He came over doing his bull's stomp, dressed in natty racing-green tweed and brandishing an umbrella like a cane."

Is he actually setting his umbrella down, as he would a cane? I'm asking because my idea of brandishing something (like a weapon) is a little different (brandishing something in the air).

  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I understand it to be waving the umbrella in the air or flourishing it (which you don't normally do with an umbrella, hence "like a cane").
    If it was using the umbrella like a cane (i.e. to help him walk), I don't think "brandishing" would be used.
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