from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
- noun An argument or opponent set up so as to be easily refuted or defeated.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
- noun A
dollor scarecrow(particularly one stuffed with straw).
- noun An
insubstantial concept, idea, endeavoror argument, particularly one deliberatelyset up to be weakly supported, so that it can be easily knocked down; especially to impugnthe strengthof any related thing or idea.
- noun An
innocuous personor someone of nominalor lesser importance, as a front manor straw boss.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- noun a person used as a cover for some questionable activity
- noun a weak or sham argument set up to be easily refuted
- noun an effigy in the shape of a man to frighten birds away from seeds
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
[From the making of sham human figures out of bundles of straw, as for use as scarecrows or practice targets .]
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
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."
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