Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
figurehead (plural figureheads)
- (nautical) A carved figure on the prow of a sailing ship.
- (by extension) Someone in a nominal position of leadership who has no actual power; a front or front man.
1928, Lawrence R. Bourne, chapter 2, Well Tackled!:
- Evidently he did not mean to be a mere figurehead, but to carry on the old tradition of Wilsthorpe's; and that was considered to be a good thing in itself and an augury for future prosperity.
carved figure on the prow of a sailing ship
someone in a nominal position of leadership