Definition of figurehead in English:

figurehead

noun

  • 1A carving, typically a bust or a full-length figure, set at the prow of an old-fashioned sailing ship.

    • ‘Examples of women as ornamentation can be traced back to the use of female figureheads on the prows of ships.’
    • ‘Although the public saw the usual hands at the wheel of the ship of state, they were as decorative as the figureheads on the bows of old sailing ships.’
    • ‘For instance, the figurehead was changed to an allegorical figure that evoked the ship's new name.’
    • ‘Included are live demonstrations by a museum carver on how sailors depicted women on figureheads which, when placed on the bow of a ship, served to ward off harm at sea.’
    • ‘The figureheads, harking back to the days of sail, stand up to 1.5 metres (five feet) tall and have been suggested by Trafalgar 200 organisers to stimulate interest in all things nautical at an early age.’
    • ‘Humphreys turned to Rush for preliminary designs for all the figureheads and stern carvings, and for a list of carvers who could accomplish the work in a timely fashion.’
    • ‘The ship was monstrous, and her figurehead suited her perfectly.’
    • ‘In America during the colonial era there had been many wood carvers creating ship's figureheads and church furnishings.’
    • ‘Some boats are shown with cabins, prows and figureheads and some carry animals.’
    • ‘Whilst it is fairly certain that they did indeed have figureheads on their ships, only a small elite would have carried them, and they would have all been warships of some description.’
    • ‘Galleries showcase an international collection of ship models, figureheads, small craft, paintings, and antique navigation instruments.’
    • ‘In the merchant marine figureheads portraying the skip's owner or builder and their wives, daughters, or sweethearts were popular.’
    • ‘Because figureheads were intended to lead the ship onward in a rush of motion, neoclassical figures, in the final analysis, were not compatible.’
    • ‘The incomers were principally craftsmen, carving ships' figureheads and occasional portrait busts.’
    • ‘She is truly formidable (in the French sense of the word), rather like one of those fantastic figureheads on a tall ship.’
    • ‘There were handsome ships anchored in the harbor, many-sailed with delicately carved figureheads.’
    • ‘As she arrived at the bow, her eyes were drawn upwards along the prow, to where an ancient figurehead stood watch.’
    • ‘There are numerous maritime antiques, pictures and figureheads as well as ship models to be found throughout.’
    • ‘She reached the anchored ship and recognized the figurehead upon its prow.’
    • ‘Built with the best materials, to the highest standard, her clipper ship bow and figurehead are still intact.’
    carving, bust, sculpture, image, statue
    View synonyms
  • 2A nominal leader or head without real power.

    • ‘He was the first of a line of hereditary prime ministers who, although they kept the monarch as a ceremonial figurehead, ruled the country themselves for more than a century.’
    • ‘If the argument is that the sovereign is largely a figurehead with little real possibility of doing harm, then let's pick one of our own.’
    • ‘Very few institutions change their chief figurehead every year.’
    • ‘He represented the leaders who were just figureheads or ruled because of their wealth, prosperity, and connections with other influential people, which was how they were in power.’
    • ‘If we are to have a figurehead as the leader of the nation, let it be the people's choice via the ballot box and not someone's birthright.’
    • ‘This would be a strong answer to the Queen as sovereign figurehead, but could also result in a political president.’
    • ‘The national sports council has long suffered from this problem as its head is looked upon as more of a figurehead than a leader well-versed and interested in sports.’
    • ‘We don't want bosses, figureheads or exalted leaders.’
    • ‘By 2011, the world was basically under the control of these five men, country leaders basically being political figureheads.’
    • ‘He says that powerful conservative interests want him punished because he's a figurehead for defiance of authority.’
    • ‘First, keep in mind that news anchors, like other constitutional monarchs, are primarily figureheads.’
    • ‘But who can be sure that having your political figurehead at the 45-minute presentation is a vote-winner?’
    • ‘Then, we had great leaders, great figureheads running clubs, but they didn't have to keep putting their hands in their pockets to bail their teams out.’
    • ‘The political leadership will become a figurehead at best and anarchy will rule.’
    • ‘It is essential that diversity leaders be more than figureheads if they are to provide transformative leadership to their campuses.’
    • ‘The alternative is to look upon the monarch as a mere figurehead, a focal point for tradition, pomp and ritual on the great occasions of state.’
    • ‘In the past, the defense minister was only a figurehead without any authority over the chief of the general staff.’
    • ‘Clan chiefs are now largely figureheads who can choose the level of involvement they have with a clan society and defer duties and titles to others.’
    • ‘The highest official is the prime minister, and the president is a figurehead with no real power.’
    • ‘He is a figurehead, the hard-drinking leader who gives the gang what they want in exchange for loyalty and service.’
    titular head, nominal leader, leader in name only, frontman, cipher, token, mouthpiece, puppet, instrument, man of straw
    View synonyms

Pronunciation

figurehead

/ˈfɪɡəhɛd/