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.

Origin of whipping boy

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

Related Words for whipping boy

scapegoat, patsy, dupe, goat, mark, sacrifice, sucker, target, victim

Examples from the Web for whipping boy

Historical Examples of whipping boy


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

Word Origin for whipping boy

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]

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