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.

Examples of effigy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In one instance, a ghoulish effigy of a pig holding a bag of money next to an image of the Israeli flag was erected on campus during the last University of California Board of Regents meeting to dramatize protester demands to divest from firms that supply weapons and services to Israel. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2024 In videos shown on state news media, an angry crowd stomped on an effigy of Mr. Netanyahu. Ronen Bergman, New York Times, 5 Apr. 2024 These include an effigy of the Brazilian being hanged from a bridge before his side’s clash against city rival Atlético Madrid in January 2023 and persistent racial abuse in a match against Valencia later that year. Sam Joseph and, CNN, 26 Mar. 2024 Butler has won a raft of international honors and been burned in effigy as a witch in Brazil. Katha Pollitt, The Atlantic, 25 Mar. 2024 How To Complete The Evil Spirits Quest The Evil Spirits quest asks you to locate the effigy of Morana on any map and kill a follower of Morana. Mike Stubbs, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 The chairwoman of the Johnson County Republican Party told the Kansas City Star in an email that the effigy had been set up as part of a booth hosted by a local martial arts school. Annie Gowen, Washington Post, 11 Mar. 2024 Later researchers determined that the effigy mound systems closely resemble the clan systems and spirit animals still used by Indigenous tribes, such as the Thunderbird and Water Panther. Frank Vaisvilas, Journal Sentinel, 15 Feb. 2024 To ward off inclement weather (like the snowstorm that canceled the parade in 2008) a snowman is burned in effigy prior to each Bockfest weekend during what's dubbed as the Precipitation Retaliation Happy Hour. Keith Pandolfi, The Enquirer, 1 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'effigy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 20 May. 2024.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on effigy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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