straw man


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 These are simplified straw man (and woman) set-ups. Zach Freeman,, "April Macie at Zanies Chicago: The sex jokes seem a little tired," 15 Sep. 2019 White House aides met on Tuesday with staff for Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee as well as staffers for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, about straw man purchasing legislation, said a senior administration official. NBC News, "Trump is a man in search of a message on gun control," 21 Aug. 2019 Warren, who was then a member of Harvard’s faculty, was being with her statement, as Obama was with his, a pyromaniac in a field of straw men (as William F. Buckley characterized his friend John Kenneth Galbraith, a Harvard economist). George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: Is the individual obsolete?," 17 July 2019 The issue has produced a lot of straw men, largely owing to a revenue and salary model that differs a great deal from most American sports. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "World Cup in hand, US women's soccer team moves to battle for equal pay. Here's what you need to know," 8 July 2019 Shivaun Raff believes that some of search neutrality’s critics were simply attacking a straw man. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "The long, tortured quest to make Google unbiased," 6 Dec. 2018 Indeed, the series opens with a flashback of Suleiman as a child rather than any introduction to Ryan, and there’s obvious care taken to make the Muslim characters more than stereotypes or straw men. Karen Han, Vox, "The best parts of Amazon’s Jack Ryan don’t involve Jack Ryan at all," 31 Aug. 2018 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,, "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

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.

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First Known Use of straw man

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of straw man was in 1886

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Cite this Entry

“Straw man.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for straw man

straw man


English Language Learners Definition of straw man

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

straw man


Legal Definition of straw man

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

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