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

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, by way of Middle French, from the Latin effigies, which, in turn, comes from the verb effingere ("to form"), a combination of the prefix ­ex- and 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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Garrett made his front lawn Vecna's lair with skeletons of quarterbacks he's sacked and an effigy of his Week 8 opponent, Joe Burrow. Victoria Hernandez, USA TODAY, 31 Oct. 2022 Inspiration for the 2022 structure was drawn from a quote by 4th century BC Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zi, according to an Instagram post by Aaron Muszalskiz, who has helped create and destroy the effigy since 2007. Hailey Rein, USA TODAY, 5 Sep. 2022 There are approximately 27 billion coins currently circulating the U.K with Queen Elizabeth II’s effigy on which will be replaced over time. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, 26 Sep. 2022 The effigy stood 61 feet tall with an intricate design. Hailey Rein, USA TODAY, 5 Sep. 2022 Also smashed were a bowl from 6th century B.C., worth about $100,000, and a ceramic Caddo effigy bottle valued at about $10,000. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 3 June 2022 An effigy of the holy virgin anchors an altar to the left of the bar, while a television plays videos of drag performances to the right. Von Diaz, Washington Post, 3 June 2022 After hiking, biking, and hanging out creekside, drive eight miles to the Serpent Mound effigy, a prehistoric Native American structure slated to become a Unesco World Heritage site. Alison Van Houten, Outside Online, 1 Oct. 2020 The kylix was worth $100,000, while the effigy bottle was valued at $10,000. Elizabeth Djinis, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 June 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1539, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of effigy was in 1539


Dictionary Entries Near effigy

Cite this Entry

“Effigy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effigy. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



ef·​fi·​gy ˈef-ə-jē How to pronounce effigy (audio)
plural effigies
: a likeness especially of a person
especially : a crude figure meant to represent a hated person
hanged their cruel ruler in effigy

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