figurehead

noun
fig·​ure·​head | \ ˈfi-g(y)ər-ˌhed How to pronounce figurehead (audio) \

Definition of figurehead

1 : the figure on a ship's bow
2 : a head or chief in name only

Examples of figurehead in a Sentence

The king is merely a figurehead; the government is really run by elected officials.

Recent Examples on the Web

Philip had planned to exert further control over his wife, rendering her a figurehead for Castile, however his plans were cut short by his own death in 1506. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "What Was Catherine of Aragon's Sister, Juana la Loca, Really Like?," 10 June 2019 This lingering trend has contributed to the rise of far-right figureheads like Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, an anti-Islam agitator who goes by the name Tommy Robinson and whose public appearances have stirred up unrest. Jonathan Coe, Time, "How Brexit Broke Britain and Revealed a Country at War With Itself," 6 June 2019 When Chris finally gets Billy on the phone, after fighting with corporate lackeys determined to keep him from speaking to the chief, the Dorsey stand-in begins to rail against his increasing irrelevance as a figurehead. Aja Romano, Vox, "“Smithereens” takes aim at the tech dystopia we already live in but has nothing new to say.," 5 June 2019 London Mayor Sadiq Khan, with whom Trump has traded barbs for years, also criticized the state visit and argued Trump is seen as a figurehead of the global far-right movement in an article over the weekend. NBC News, "Trump's tea with Prince Charles could get awkward over the environment," 3 June 2019 But based on his ICE comments and the uneven results of his campaign efforts, Sanders no longer seems like such a sure figurehead for disgruntled Democratic voters. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Bernie Sanders Is Not the Left," 26 June 2018 Yet at sometimes raucous events elsewhere in the huge convention center and at nearby hotels, party activists cheered as figureheads of the anti-EU wing exhorted Mrs. May to change course. Max Colchester, WSJ, "U.K. Conservative Party Reveals Its Deep Divides," 1 Oct. 2018 Heloise takes a stand against the order and brings destruction to her home, and in the next installment, becomes the figurehead of a growing movement to oppose and topple the Order. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 And not necessarily the sort of Chief Digital Officer or some figurehead who goes around from place to place. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why building a business that’s dependent on Facebook is ‘crazy’," 16 Aug. 2018

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

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First Known Use of figurehead

1765, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for figurehead

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for figurehead

The first known use of figurehead was in 1765

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More Definitions for figurehead

figurehead

noun

English Language Learners Definition of figurehead

: a carved figure (as of a woman) on a ship's bow
: a person who is called the head or chief of something but who has no real power

figurehead

noun
fig·​ure·​head | \ ˈfi-gyər-ˌhed How to pronounce figurehead (audio) \

Kids Definition of figurehead

1 : a carved figure on the bow of a ship
2 : a person who is called the head of something but who has no real power

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More from Merriam-Webster on figurehead

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with figurehead

Spanish Central: Translation of figurehead

Nglish: Translation of figurehead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of figurehead for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about figurehead

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