straw man

straw man

noun
1.
a mass of straw formed to resemble a man, as for a doll or scarecrow.
2.
a person whose importance or function is only nominal, as to cover another's activities; front.
3.
a fabricated or conveniently weak or innocuous person, object, matter, etc., used as a seeming adversary or argument: The issue she railed about was no more than a straw man.

Origin:
1585–95

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
straw man
 
n
1.  a figure of a man made from straw
2.  another term for man of straw

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

straw man definition


A made-up version of an opponent's argument that can easily be defeated. To accuse people of attacking a straw man is to suggest that they are avoiding worthier opponents and more valid criticisms of their own position: “His speech had emotional appeal, but it wasn't really convincing because he attacked a straw man rather than addressing the real issues.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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