[fig-yer-hed] /ˈfɪg yərˌhɛd/

a person who is of a group, company, etc., in title but actually has no real authority or responsibility:
Most modern kings and queens are figureheads.
Nautical. a carved full-length or bust built into the bow of a sailing ship.
a person nominally having a prominent position, but no real authority
a carved bust or full-length figure at the upper end of the stems of some sailing vessels

1765, from figure (n.) + head (n.). Originally the ornament on the bow of a ship; sense of “leader without real authority” is first attested 1883.


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