[ skeyp-goht ]
/ ˈskeɪpˌgoʊt /


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.

verb (used with object)

to make a scapegoat of: Strike leaders tried to scapegoat foreign competitors.

Nearby words

  1. scanty,
  2. scanzoni's maneuver,
  3. scapa flow,
  4. scape,
  5. scape wheel,
  6. scapegoatism,
  7. scapegrace,
  8. scapewheel,
  9. scapha,
  10. scapho-

Origin of scapegoat

First recorded in 1520–30; scape2 + goat Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scapegoat

British Dictionary definitions for scapegoat


/ (ˈskeɪpˌɡəʊt) /


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

C16: from escape + goat, coined by William Tyndale to translate Biblical Hebrew azāzēl (probably) goat for Azazel, mistakenly thought to mean ``goat that escapes''

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

Word Origin and History for scapegoat


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for scapegoat


A person or group that is made to bear blame for others. According to the Old Testament, on the Day of Atonement, a priest would confess all the sins of the Israelites over the head of a goat and then drive it into the wilderness, symbolically bearing their sins away.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.