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

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 Harvey has told several versions of the story behind the burning of the first effigy, including a joke about an ex-girlfriend that has become part of Burning Man lore. Don Sweeney, sacbee, "Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey in critical condition after ‘massive’ stroke," 10 Apr. 2018 Echoing previous anniversary celebrations, people set U.S. and Israeli flags ablaze and burned effigies of President Trump. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "Iran Vows to Continue Military Expansion Despite U.S. Threats," 11 Feb. 2019 Soon after Obama’s election, right-wing protesters across the country burned effigies of the first black president. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "“For conservatives, by conservatives”: the rise of right-wing dating apps," 26 Dec. 2018 There was no villain here, nobody to blame, no need for a scapegoat or an effigy. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Croatia Digs Deeper, Burying England’s World Cup Dreams," 12 July 2018 Demonstrators created larger-than-life papier-mâché figures and effigies of Ms. Park and Samsung’s third-generation heir Lee Jae-yong; the latter served more than a year in prison on bribery charges. Eun-young Jeong, WSJ, "Business Scandals Rocked South Korea, but Promised Overhaul Underwhelms," 30 Nov. 2018 Made of limestone, the altar depicts the image of the previously unknown king Chak Took Ich’aak carrying a double-headed serpent effigy. James Rogers, Fox News, "'Game of thrones' altar discovered at ancient Maya temple, reveals its secrets," 20 Sep. 2018 Topping the list is the grandfatherly effigy of the influential British philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham — incorporating his skeleton. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Real, or Too Real? A Dazzling Show Goes the Way of All Flesh," 22 Mar. 2018

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

29 Apr 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).


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

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!