AskDefine | Define effigy

Dictionary Definition

effigy n : a representation of a person (especially in the form of sculpture); "the coin bears an effigy of Lincoln"; "the emperor's tomb had his image carved in stone" [syn: image, simulacrum]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ɛfəgi/
  • /Ef@gi/


From effigie, from effigies, likeness.


  1. a dummy or other crude representation meant to represent a person or group that is hated
  2. a likeness of a person


a dummy or other crude representation
a likeness of a person

Extensive Definition

An effigy is a representation of a person, especially in the form of sculpture.
The term is usually associated with full-length figures of a deceased person depicted in stone or wood on church monuments. These most often lie supine with hands together in prayer, but may also be recumbent, kneeling in prayer or even standing. Effigies may also be (half) demi-figures and the term is occasionally used to refer to a bust, for example: "the coin bears an effigy of Lincoln".
A different type of effigy is used in some religious rituals to represent an undesired person or spirit. The effigy is burned as a sign of the participants' shared intent to banish the represented element from their lives. The best known British example is the burning of an effigy made of straw and/or old clothing depicting the 17th century Catholic conspirator, Guy Fawkes.
Political effigies serve a broadly similar purpose on political demonstrations or annual community rituals such as that held in Lewes, on the south coast of England. In Lewes, models of important or unpopular figures in current affairs are burned on bonfire night, alongside an effigy of the Pope. The unpopular or political figures are part of tableaux and are not classed as effigies.

Popular culture

In Bill Watterson's comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin makes several snowmen and identifies them as effigies, all representing people whom he hates. When the sun comes out, they will melt.

See also

effigy in Portuguese: Efígie
effigy in Thai: อนุสรณ์ผู้ตาย

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

companion, copy, dead ringer, double, duplicate, exact likeness, fellow, icon, idol, image, likeness, living image, living picture, match, mate, miniature, mirroring, model, photograph, picture, portrait, reflection, resemblance, rubbing, semblance, shadow, similitude, simulacrum, spit and image, spitting image, trace, tracing, twin, very image, very picture
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