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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web 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 The book has the confounding idea of rebelling against recipes as a sort of villainous straw man. Wired, 1 Aug. 2022 But instead of rallying behind any of these causes, some of the most powerful and visible women in media and entertainment are busy using trans people as a straw man to express a nebulous fear that the word woman itself is somehow under threat. Emma Specter, Vogue, 5 July 2022 One piece of advice comes from Natarajan: Rebut the strongest, and not the weakest, version of an opposing argument; steel man, don’t straw man. Bo Seo, The Atlantic, 1 June 2022 Notably, Villanueva appears to have set up a straw man here. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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 3 Feb. 2023.

Legal Definition

straw man

: an intermediary for a transaction (as a conveyance of real property)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?