(1) An effigy in the shape of a man to frighten birds away from seeds
(2) A weak or sham argument set up to be easily refuted
(3) A person used as a cover for some questionable activity
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."
- A doll or scarecrow.
- An insubstantial concept, idea, or endeavor.
- Something, such as an argument, deliberately set up weakly supported, so that it can be easily knocked down; especially to impugn the strength of any related thing or idea.
- An innocuous person or someone of nominal or lesser importance, as a front man or straw boss. cf. straw poll, straw shoe, straw vote.