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.

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 strawman

  • We'll drag out Mr. Strawman, and lynch him to the big gate before they get along.

  • Then I learned that my indefinite gentleman had been a partner of the forger's brother, and that his name was Strawman.

    Creditors; Pariah|August Strindberg

British Dictionary definitions for strawman

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

Cultural definitions for strawman

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.