fu·​gle·​man ˈfyü-gəl-mən How to pronounce fugleman (audio)
: a trained soldier formerly posted in front of a line of soldiers at drill to serve as a model in their exercises
: one at the head or forefront of a group or movement

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A fugleman (adapted from the German Flügelmann, literally "wing man" but commonly meaning "file leader") was originally a soldier posted in front of a line of soldiers to serve as a model in their drill exercises. Today, with its more figurative meaning, the word is often used pejoratively as a synonym of "mouthpiece" or "ringleader." "Fugleman" is by no means a common word, but it does appear in the occasional newspaper article.

Word History


modification of German Flügelmann, from Flügel wing + Mann man

First Known Use

1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fugleman was in 1804


Dictionary Entries Near fugleman

Cite this Entry

“Fugleman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fugleman. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

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