a person who is head of a group, company, etc., in title but actually has no real authority or responsibility: Most modern kings and queens are figureheads.
Nautical. a carved full-length figure or bust built into the bow of a sailing ship.

1755–65; figure + head Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
figurehead (ˈfɪɡəˌhɛd)
1.  a person nominally having a prominent position, but no real authority
2.  a carved bust or full-length figure at the upper end of the stems of some sailing vessels

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1765, from figure + head. Originally the ornament on the bow of a ship; sense of "leader without real authority" is first attested 1883.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
It is a figurehead office, a bully pulpit that confers little power.
To the ordinary seaman, the figurehead symbolized his ship.
However, no individual should accept the position of committee treasurer as a
  mere figurehead.
He signs all contracts and ordinances on behalf of the city and is the
  figurehead of city government.
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