From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Figurehead (nautical).


figure +‎ head


  • IPA(key): /ˈfɪɡjəɹˌhɛd/, /ˈfɪɡəɹˌhɛd/
  • (file)
  • (file)


figurehead (plural figureheads)

  1. (nautical) A carved figure on the prow of a sailing ship.
  2. (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, in Well Tackled![1]:
      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.
    • 2022 September 8, Stephen Bates, “Queen Elizabeth II obituary”, in The Guardian[2]:
      Instead she played, largely impeccably, the part of a modern constitutional monarch, a symbolic figurehead with a right to be consulted and to advise and warn political leaders privately and to show herself publicly as a focus of national life, celebration and commemoration.
    • 2022 September 19, Philip Oltermann, “Germany’s Die Linke on verge of split over sanctions on Russia”, in The Guardian[3]:
      Supporters of Wagenknecht, a controversial but prominent figurehead, are already hatching plans for a breakaway party to compete in the 2024 European elections, the German newspaper Taz reported this week.
  3. (nautical, slang, obsolete) A person's face.
    • 1829, Douglas Jerrold, Black-Eyed Susan; or, All in the Downs:
      HATCHET. Bring up, I say, or I'll spoil your figurehead. [Lifting his cudgel]