straw man


noun

a mass of straw formed to resemble a man, as for a doll or scarecrow.
a person whose importance or function is only nominal, as to cover another's activities; front.
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.

Nearby words

  1. stravinsky, igor fedorovich,
  2. straw,
  3. straw boss,
  4. straw color,
  5. straw in the wind,
  6. straw mite,
  7. straw mushroom,
  8. straw poll,
  9. straw that breaks the camel's back,
  10. straw vote

Origin of straw man

First recorded in 1585–95

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for straw man


British Dictionary definitions for straw man

straw man

noun mainly US

a figure of a man made from straw
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

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

Culture definitions for straw man

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.