Origin of straw man
Words nearby straw man
What does straw man mean?
A straw man is a fictional, exaggerated version of an opposing viewpoint, especially one that’s intentionally created to be easy to dismiss or argue against and to make one’s own argument seem stronger.
It’s commonly used in the phrase straw man argument, referring to an argument that uses a straw man. Straw man is sometimes spelled strawman.
A straw man argument is a kind of logical fallacy, which is an illogical or misleading argument. Straw man arguments can be made unintentionally, but most are made on purpose to make the other side seem evil, incompetent, or extremist.
Because straw men are not based on reality, they are often considered deceitful or nonsensical, and the term implies a criticism of such methods. They are often associated with their use in political arguments or debates. For example, during a campaign, a politician may call for greater government protection for endangered wolves. If that politician’s opponent then accuses them of wanting to release wolves into elementary schools, that’s a straw man argument.
The literal meaning of straw man refers to the likeness of a person made out of straw (like a scarecrow).
Straw man can also be used to refer to a person who’s used to cover someone’s else’s activities when they may be illegal or unethical. For example, this sense of straw man can refer to someone who makes a straw purchase—a purchase of something, such as a gun, for a person who is restricted from buying it.
Example: The senator was criticized for using a straw man argument during the debate instead of addressing his opponent’s real position.
Where does straw man come from?
The first records of the term straw man come from the 1580s. It was used literally to refer to a human figure made out of straw. The use of straw man to refer to a form of argument is newer, although the exact origin is unknown.
The term is used as a metaphor, alluding to the fact that a person made of straw is obviously not real and is therefore an easy opponent due to being incapable of fighting back.
The goal of a straw man is to weaken an opponent’s actual argument and make your own look better in comparison. Of course, this strategy can fail if the audience realizes that you are attacking a straw man because you aren’t confident in your own position and wouldn’t hold up against the opposing argument.
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What are some other forms related to straw man?
- straw men (plural)
- strawman (alternate spelling)
- straw-man (alternate spelling)
What are some synonyms for straw man?
What are some words that share a root or word element with straw man?
What are some words that often get used in discussing straw man?
How is straw man used in real life?
The phrase straw man implies a criticism of such arguments. Straw man arguments are especially associated with political debates.
"This is going to ruin cinema!" yeah, every decade since the twenties wants their straw man argument back.
— Moltar, Moltar, and Moltar (@cooke9000) August 2, 2020
It’s hard to have a debate with people on twitter because 98% of people on here use straw man arguments for every single rebuttal they have
— Kylan Morris (@KylanDMorris) July 28, 2018
Is it me or does “Law & Order: SVU” have some of the biggest straw man characters ever?
— John Miles (@PrivatizeEdu) December 30, 2018
Try using straw man!
True or False?
A straw man is an accurate representation of an opposing argument that is logically disproved with researched facts and figures.
How to use straw man in a sentence
Fauci also told Paul there’s no possibility the research in the paper Paul cited directly led to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but Paul correctly called this out as a straw man.What the fight between Anthony Fauci and Rand Paul is really about|Josh Rogin|July 22, 2021|Washington Post
“Foreign buyers are a bit of a straw man because sometimes they’re blamed for the ups, and sometimes they’re blamed for the downs,” Walkup says.New York luxury real estate could be a bargain in 2021|Rachel King|December 27, 2020|Fortune
In the first episode, an officer is shown video of himself shooting and killing a man.'Babylon' Review: The Dumb Lives of Trigger-Happy Cops|Melissa Leon|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
That man was Xavier Cortada, a gay man who wrote of his frustration that he and his partner of eight years were unable to marry.
It is the summit of human happiness: the surrender of man to God, of woman to man, of several women to the same man.Houellebecq’s Incendiary Novel Imagines France With a Muslim President|Pierre Assouline|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
But no more so than the Sodexo building maintenance man or the two cops who were also killed in the crossfire.
He looks like a man who should have had kids, but now never will.
Davy looked around and saw an old man coming toward them across the lawn.Davy and The Goblin|Charles E. Carryl
The supernaturalist alleges that religion was revealed to man by God, and that the form of this revelation is a sacred book.God and my Neighbour|Robert Blatchford
The most High hath created medicines out of the earth, and a wise man will not abhor them.The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version|Various
He remembered something—the cherished pose of being a man plunged fathoms-deep in business.St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini
On the thirteenth of the same month they bound to the stake, in order to burn alive, a man who had two religious in his house.
British Dictionary definitions for straw man
Cultural definitions for 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.”