In modern usage, effigy most often refers to a likeness, such as a dummy, that is hanged, burned, or otherwise abused when protesting the despised person's actions.

If you've encountered the phrase "in effigy,” it's probably been in a news report about protesters burning a stuffed figure made to look like a loathed corporate leader or head of state. Since the 18th century or longer, effigies have been destroyed in place of individuals who, as far as the angry crowd is concerned, have escaped justice. Effigy can also refer to a sculptural portrait of the deceased reclining upon a burial monument.

Definitions of effigy
  1. noun
    a representation of a person (especially in the form of sculpture)
    “the coin bears an effigy of Lincoln”
    synonyms: image, simulacrum
    see moresee less
    show 7 types...
    hide 7 types...
    an effigy of Guy Fawkes that is burned on a bonfire on Guy Fawkes Day
    god, graven image, idol
    a material effigy that is worshipped
    bird-scarer, scarecrow, scarer, straw man, strawman
    an effigy in the shape of a man to frighten birds away from seeds
    wax figure, waxwork
    an effigy (usually of a famous person) made of wax
    golden calf
    (Old Testament) an idol made by Aaron for the Israelites to worship; destroyed by Moses; it is now used to refer to anything worshipped undeservedly
    a Chinese god worshipped in the form of an idol
    a crude idol of Krishna
    type of:
    a creation that is a visual or tangible rendering of someone or something
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week