phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Stalking horse, straw man

Posted by ESC on January 27, 2001

In Reply to: Straw horse posted by marcus on January 27, 2001

: : Anyone know the meaning and origin of straw horse?

: ;) not sure of the origin but a straw horse is any weak argument or proposal that won't hold up to intense scrutiny.

There's "straw man" or "man of straw" and then there's "stalking horse." These terms are similar But I couldn't find "straw horse."

A STRAW MAN is "a weakling; one who is all facade, no substance; also, a false issue or phony candidate set up to be easily knocked down...comes from the farmer's scarecrow, and from its military use as a false target set up to draw enemy fire..." A STALKING HORSE is "a decoy; a candidate put forward to split a vote or deadlock a convention, concealing another candidate's plan. In hunting, a stalking horse is used to conceal a sportsman stalking game, allowing the hunter to get close to his quarry; from this expression, used in print since 1519, has come to mean a person put forward to mislead." From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).