Aunt Sally

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Proper noun[edit]

Aunt Sally

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  1. A traditional game in which balls are thrown to break the pipe in the mouth of a figurine resembling an old woman.
    • 1913, DH Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, chapter 1
      Mrs. Morel did not like the wakes. There were two sets of horses, one going by steam, one pulled round by a pony; three organs were grinding, and there came odd cracks of pistol-shots, fearful screeching of the cocoanut man's rattle, shouts of the Aunt Sally man, screeches from the peep-show lady.
  2. (idiomatic) A figure drawing criticism or ridicule; a straw man.
    • 2008, The Economist, Manmohan Singh's burning ambition
      IN FOUR years as India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh has come to resemble a bearded and turbaned Aunt Sally.
    • 2013, Irish Examiner Stakes couldn't be higher
      The finance minister, a true Aunt Sally figure, was dispatched to Moscow in search of backing.

Usage notes[edit]

British Aunt Sally argument and Aunt Sally figure parallel the more widespread straw man argument and straw man figure.