ef·​fi·​gy | \ ˈe-fə-jē How to pronounce effigy (audio) \
plural effigies

Definition of effigy

: an image or representation especially of a person especially : a crude figure representing a hated person
in effigy
: publicly in the form of an effigy the football coach was burned in effigy

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

An earlier sense of effigy is "a likeness of a person shaped out of stone or other materials," so it’s not surprising to learn that effigy derives from the Latin verb fingere, which means "to shape." Fingere is the common ancestor of a number of other English nouns that name things you can shape. A fiction is a story you shape with your imagination. Figments are shaped by the imagination, too; they’re something you imagine or make up. A figure can be a numeral, a shape, or a picture that you shape as you draw or write.

Examples of effigy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Today, farmers plow up stone effigies without realizing that the sculptures are antique representations of the sage. Paul Salopek, The New Yorker, "Walking the Path of the Buddha in a Neglected Corner of India," 9 Aug. 2019 The Obama effigy will soon join George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman Ronald Reagan and his other predecessors in the City of Presidents, a series of bronze statues of every past president along the city's streets and sidewalks. Vandana Ravikumar, USA TODAY, "South Dakota's Rapid City adds Barack Obama statue to its City of Presidents collection," 14 July 2019 Derek Lawson, the head herdsman at the 1,300-acre Foxhollow cattle farm in Oldham County, said effigies have been mostly effective at Foxhollow. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky black vulture attacks: How to keep your pets and farm animals safe," 25 June 2019 Thousands of flag-waving protesters rallied outside the House and burned his effigy. Jim Gomez, The Seattle Times, "Row delays Duterte speech, rebel deal; Arroyo named speaker," 23 July 2018 Khan has since repeatedly called for Trump's official visits to the UK to be canceled, and London's City Hall issued permission for a giant inflatable effigy of Trump to be flown over Parliament Square during planned protests. Matthew Robinson, CNN, "Donald Trump: London mayor Sadiq Khan a 'disaster' over spate of violence," 16 June 2019 The company first focused on reports during riots in Sweden over police brutality that claimed Muslims were protesting Christian crosses, showing images of people dressed in black destroying an effigy of Christ on the cross. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Researchers discover “Fishwrap” influence campaign recycling old terror news," 12 June 2019 At anti-Spanish rallies in towns and cities, indignant citizens burned General Weyler in effigy. John Maxwell Hamilton, National Geographic, "In a battle for readers, two media barons sparked a war in the 1890s," 16 Apr. 2019 In some parts of Latin America, an effigy of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is burned. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "What Is Holy Saturday, the Day Before Easter, and Why Do We Celebrate It?," 1 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'effigy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of effigy

1539, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for effigy

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French effigie, borrowed from Latin effigiēs "representation, copy, specter," from effig-, variant stem of effingere "to shape, portray, copy" (from ef-, variant before f of ex- ex- entry 1 + fingere "to mold, fashion, make a likeness of") + -iēs, deverbal noun suffix — more at feign

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about effigy

Listen to Our Podcast about effigy

Statistics for effigy

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for effigy

The first known use of effigy was in 1539

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for effigy



English Language Learners Definition of effigy

: an image of a person

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on effigy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for effigy

Spanish Central: Translation of effigy

Nglish: Translation of effigy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about effigy

Comments on effigy

What made you want to look up effigy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!