man of straw

M - S

man of straw,
also, straw man (primarily in the US)


  • a person who is disregarded as lacking character or morality.
  • a person who makes a financial promise without sufficient funds.
  • an irresponsible and weak person.
  • someone who does not have the courage or ability to do a particular task.

Example Sentences

  1. He’s just a man of straw, easily manipulated by powerful people.
  2. She was chosen as leader, but her advisors held most of the power; she was little more than a man of straw.
  3. The government chose an unknown figure to be their spokesperson; he was nothing more than a man of straw.
  4. They realized the CEO was just a man of straw with no real influence in the company.
  5. The wealthy businessman hired an actor to pretend to be him—a man of straw—so that his identity would remain secret.


The origin of the idiom “man of straw” can be traced back to a Scottish proverb that dates back to the 1500s. The proverb stated that “he’s but a man of straw that will not stand the wind.” This saying was commonly used to describe individuals who lacked determination or strength. The analogy was derived from the ease with which scarecrows are blown away by the wind. According to the proverb, people without moral courage and strong character may have difficulty standing up for themselves in difficult circumstances.

The phrase “man of straw” literally referred to a dummy used to practice combat or a scarecrow placed in a field to scare away birds.

The term “man of straw” has been used in literature since Shakespeare’s era but has now become a prevalent legal term, meaning a weaker individual being represented in court by a straw man. The term “man of straw” describes someone who lacks courage and can be easily influenced by others. Although it typically has a negative meaning, it can also be used positively to describe someone who is humble, kind, and cooperative, indicating strength rather than weakness. It serves as a reminder to be brave and assertive in difficult situations. The phrase encourages us to be like the strong and brave ‘man of straw’ who stands up for his beliefs no matter what. It reminds us not to let others exploit our kindness and make us into a weak ‘man of straw’.

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