- a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.
- Chiefly Biblical. a goat let loose in the wilderness on Yom Kippur after the high priest symbolically laid the sins of the people on its head. Lev. 16:8,10,26.
- to make a scapegoat of: Strike leaders tried to scapegoat foreign competitors.
Origin of scapegoat
Related Words for scapegoatfool, pushover, stooge, sucker, sacrifice, gull, schmuck, patsy, mark, dupe, victim, chump, sap, weakling, goat, doormat, pigeon
Examples from the Web for scapegoat
Contemporary Examples of scapegoat
They are vouching for Shadman, saying he is a scapegoat of a shoddy investigation.Special Forces’ $77M ‘Hustler’ Hits Back
December 8, 2014
Smith, the current police chief, called Lee a “scapegoat” who was “thrown to the wolves” to satisfy political critics.Florida Cops on What Ferguson Can Learn From Trayvon
November 20, 2014
Contending that he was being used as a scapegoat, Palmer asked for a trade.Will the Real Jim Palmer Please Stand Up
September 27, 2014
But the choice of a scapegoat is never really arbitrary, as scholar René Girard has shown in his classic study of the phenomenon.
The scapegoat is invariably an outsider, existing at the margins of a community, and resisting its core values.
Historical Examples of scapegoat
They will not readily yield up their scapegoat or sacrifice their privileges.The Truth About Woman
C. Gasquoine Hartley
For what he had suffered at the hands of Man he had chosen to make Spain the scapegoat.Captain Blood
If the people demand a scapegoat, governments usually provide one.
I gathered, sir, that he was to be sacrificed to the Council of Regency—a sort of scapegoat.
We can't allow them to throw the Emperor out, so we need a scapegoat.The Unnecessary Man
Gordon Randall Garrett
- a person made to bear the blame for others
- Old Testament a goat used in the ritual of Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16); it was symbolically laden with the sins of the Israelites and sent into the wilderness to be destroyed
- (tr) to make a scapegoat of
Word Origin for scapegoat
1530, "goat sent into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement, symbolic bearer of the sins of the people," coined by Tyndale from scape (n.) + goat to translate Latin caper emissarius, itself a translation in Vulgate of Hebrew 'azazel (Lev. xvi:8,10,26), which was read as 'ez ozel "goat that departs," but which others hold to be the proper name of a devil or demon in Jewish mythology (sometimes identified with Canaanite deity Aziz).
Jerome's reading also was followed by Martin Luther (der ledige Bock), Symmachus (tragos aperkhomenos), and others (cf. French bouc émissaire), but the question of who, or what (or even where) is meant by 'azazel is a vexed one. The Revised Version (1884) simply restores Azazel. But the old translation has its modern defenders:
Azazel is an active participle or participial noun, derived ultimately from azal (connected with the Arabic word azala, and meaning removed), but immediately from the reduplicate form of that verb, azazal. The reduplication of the consonants of the root in Hebrew and Arabic gives the force of repetition, so that while azal means removed, azalzal means removed by a repetition of acts. Azalzel or azazel, therefore, means one who removes by a series of acts. ... The interpretation is founded on sound etymological grounds, it suits the context wherever the word occurs, it is consistent with the remaining ceremonial of the Day of Atonement, and it accords with the otherwise known religious beliefs and symbolical practices of the Israelites. [Rev. F. Meyrick, "Leviticus," London, 1882]
Meaning "one who is blamed or punished for the mistakes or sins of others" first recorded 1824; the verb is attested from 1943. Related: Scapegoated; scapegoating. For the formation, cf. scapegrace, also scape-gallows "one who deserves hanging."