straw man

noun

Definition of straw man 

1 : a weak or imaginary opposition (such as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted

2 : 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

Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said McWatters or any other nominee could serve as a straw man to extend Mulvaney's tenure beyond the 210 days allowed by the law. Jim Puzzanghera, latimes.com, "Mick Mulvaney must leave as CFPB chief soon, unless Trump nominates somebody — anybody — else for the job," 22 May 2018 Part of it is human nature, and because there isn't a white straw man at the end of that, the villain is really the system. Joshua Rivera, GQ, "The Creator of Dear White People Wants to Tell You the Complicated Truth About America," 10 May 2018 For her part, Hardin-Ploetz will attempt to portray the NCAA’s assumption of risk defense as something of a straw man argument. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Analyzing Ploetz v. NCAA, the First Legal Battle Over CTE to Reach Trial," 26 Apr. 2018 His rationale was a legally frivolous straw man: Clinton had not intended to harm national security. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Clinton–Obama Emails: The Key to Understanding Why Hillary Wasn’t Indicted," 23 Jan. 2018 But one of the report's authors suggested Koonin is creating a straw man. Alaska Dispatch News, "Climate change driven almost entirely by human action, says report released by Trump administration," 3 Nov. 2017 But one of the report's authors suggested Koonin is creating a straw man. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "Humans 'dominant cause' of climate change, Trump administration report says," 3 Nov. 2017 Most importantly, this volume reveals that Coates’ critics to have been attacking a straw man all along. Ismail Muhammad, New Republic, "Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Uneasy Hope," 26 Oct. 2017 Campillo is much more interested in the push and pull of each discussion, and in making sure there are no straw men to root against. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Beats Per Minute Is a Rousing Portrait of a Community in Crisis," 19 Oct. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of straw man

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about straw man

Statistics for straw man

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for straw man

The first known use of straw man was in 1886

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for straw man

straw man

noun

English Language Learners Definition of straw man

: a weak or imaginary argument or opponent that is set up to be easily defeated

straw man

noun

Legal Definition of straw man 

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

More from Merriam-Webster on straw man

See words that rhyme with straw man

Comments on straw man

What made you want to look up straw man? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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