pup·​pet ˈpə-pət How to pronounce puppet (audio)
often attributive
: a small-scale figure (as of a person or animal) usually with a cloth body and hollow head that fits over and is moved by the hand
: one whose acts are controlled by an outside force or influence
a puppet ruler
puppetlike adjective

Example Sentences

a dictator who was perceived as being an American puppet gave her a puppet with strings for a gift
Recent Examples on the Web Animals, music, puppet shows, face painting and more. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 28 May 2023 Baby-friendly activities like songs and puppets are accompanied by a tour of a specific area of the zoo. Amy Schwabe, Journal Sentinel, 25 May 2023 In the 1930s, Puyi was appointed puppet leader of Manchuria, the northeastern region that Japan had occupied as part of its invasion of China. Oliver Hu, NBC News, 24 May 2023 After some persuading, the two are then seen practicing using puppets. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 28 Apr. 2023 Two colleagues came to Tbilisi from St. Petersburg carrying suitcases filled with theatrical props and decided to open a small puppet theater for children. Sergey Ponomarev Ivan Nechepurenko, New York Times, 27 Jan. 2023 There wasn’t an airline CEO onboard trying to drag Middle Seat Man out of his spot, but airlines are the puppet masters who’ve made flying so miserable that passengers are practically forced into battle over scarce resources (see: the reclining-seats wars). Beth Teitell, BostonGlobe.com, 19 Jan. 2023 Even Caesar himself was Crassus’s puppet at the beginning of his career. Peter Stothard, Time, 21 Dec. 2022 The puppet’s antics also put him on the radar of a couple unseemly fellows. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 9 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English popet youth, doll, from Middle French poupette, diminutive of *poupe doll, from Vulgar Latin *puppa, alteration of Latin pupa

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of puppet was in 1538

Dictionary Entries Near puppet

Cite this Entry

“Puppet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puppet. Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


pup·​pet ˈpəp-ət How to pronounce puppet (audio)
: a doll moved by hand or by strings or wires
: a person or a government whose acts are controlled by an outside force or influence

More from Merriam-Webster on puppet

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