straw man

See more synonyms for straw man on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a mass of straw formed to resemble a man, as for a doll or scarecrow.
  2. a person whose importance or function is only nominal, as to cover another's activities; front.
  3. a fabricated or conveniently weak or innocuous person, object, matter, etc., used as a seeming adversary or argument: The issue she railed about was no more than a straw man.

Origin of straw man

First recorded in 1585–95
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for straw man

cover, front

Examples from the Web for straw man

Contemporary Examples of straw man

Historical Examples of straw man

  • Being condemned to death, the straw-man is led through the village, shot, and burned upon a pyre.

    Balder The Beautiful, Vol. I.

    Sir James George Frazer

  • Every boy brought a handful of nosegays and fastened them to the straw-man, who was thus enveloped in flowers.

    Balder The Beautiful, Vol. I.

    Sir James George Frazer

  • Sometimes a stuffed recamúchi (cacomistle, bassariscus) is used either in the place of a straw-man or in addition to it.


British Dictionary definitions for straw man

straw man

noun mainly US
  1. a figure of a man made from straw
  2. another term for man of straw
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for straw man
n.

1590s, "doll or scarecrow made of bound straw," from straw (n.) + man (n.). Figuratively, in debates, by 1896. Man of straw "imaginary opponent" is recorded from 1620s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

straw man in Culture

straw man

A made-up version of an opponent's argument that can easily be defeated. To accuse people of attacking a straw man is to suggest that they are avoiding worthier opponents and more valid criticisms of their own position: “His speech had emotional appeal, but it wasn't really convincing because he attacked a straw man rather than addressing the real issues.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.