Straw Man Definition

Webster's New World
A deliberately weak and easily refuted argument put forward, as by a politician or debater, as the argument of the opposition.
Webster's New World
A person of little importance; nonentity.
Webster's New World
A person used to disguise another's intentions, activities, etc.; blind.
Webster's New World

A doll or scarecrow (particularly one stuffed with straw).

To falsely attribute an insubstantial argument (a straw man argument) to another through direct declaration or indirect implication.
Person A: "Cats have claws."Person B: "Not all cats have claws, some are declawed."Person A: "Don't straw man me, I never said -all-"Person B: "Well I never said -you- said all, so don't straw man me either. But you didn't say 'some' cats or 'most' cats so I wanted to interject in case others assumed the lack of qualifier to imply or imply all cats."

Other Word Forms of Straw Man


straw man
straw men

Origin of Straw Man

  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 1986 passim, shows first known usages for things insubstantial date to 1585-95. Universal Dictionary of the English Language, 1897, Vol 4, p. 4485, notes "man of straw" as "The figure of a man formed of an old suit of clothes stuffed with straw; hence, the mere resemblance of a man; one of no substance or means; an imaginary person."

    From Wiktionary

  • From the making of sham human figures out of bundles of straw, as for use as scarecrows or practice targets

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

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