straw man


: a weak or imaginary opposition (such as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted
: a person set up to serve as a cover for a usually questionable transaction

Examples of straw man in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Now, every good straw man has a kernel of truth to it. Samuel Clowes Huneke, The New Republic, 26 Oct. 2023 And nearly three hours is a long time to spend with only one real person, who keeps getting attacked by straw men. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 That both consider realism’s antecedents and insights without using some variant of liberalism as a straw man is equally impressive. Emma Ashford, Foreign Affairs, 6 Sep. 2022 But again, that's a straw man—no one was arguing that backcountry streams were the main source of Giardia infections. Christie Wilcox, Discover Magazine, 8 Feb. 2018 Once again those with a global agenda have created a straw man by misrepresenting the position of their critics. Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 31 May 2011 Dominic Carter does his best with the character of Dr. George Seward, the head physician of the asylum, though Seward is a caricature of male pomposity, an endlessly mansplaining straw man set up only to be knocked down. Don Aucoin,, 18 Oct. 2022 Evison says book banning is a political straw man, and the stakes are much higher than just the books being targeted. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, 16 Sep. 2022

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

Word History

First Known Use

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of straw man was in 1886

Dictionary Entries Near straw man

Cite this Entry

“Straw man.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Legal Definition

straw man

: an intermediary for a transaction (as a conveyance of real property)
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