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whipping boy

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noun
  1. a person who is made to bear the blame for another's mistake; scapegoat.
  2. (formerly) a boy educated along with and taking punishment in place of a young prince or nobleman.
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Origin of whipping boy

First recorded in 1640–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for whipping boy

whipping boy

noun
  1. a person of little importance who is blamed for the errors, incompetence, etc, of others, esp his superiors; scapegoat
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Word Origin

C17: originally referring to a boy who was educated with a prince and who received punishment for any faults committed by the prince
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with whipping boy

whipping boy

A scapegoat, as in This department's always been the whipping boy when things don't go well. This expression alludes to the former practice of keeping a boy to be whipped in place of a prince who was to be punished. [Early 1900s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.