- The definition of a scapegoat is someone who is assigned the blame or made to take the fall for something.
When three employees plan a prank together and then blame it on one person, getting him fired, the person who was blamed is an example of a scapegoat.
- a goat over the head of which the high priest of the ancient Jews confessed the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement, after which it was allowed to escape: Lev. 16:7-26
- a person, group, or thing upon whom the blame for the mistakes or crimes of others is thrust
Origin: coined by William Tyndale (1530) from scape plush goat, probably from LL(Vulg.) caper emissarius, literally , emissary goat, translated, translation of Ecclesiastical Greek tragos aperchomenos, departing goat, used as translated, translation of Classical Hebrew (language) sair laazazel from sair, he-goat plush l, to plush azazel, probably name of a desert demon, but uncertain or unknown; perhaps with folk-etym. meaning “goat that leaves,” as if from ez (female) goat plush azal, has left
- scapegoating noun
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- One that is made to bear the blame of others.
- Bible A live goat over whose head Aaron confessed all the sins of the children of Israel on the Day of Atonement. The goat, symbolically bearing their sins, was then sent into the wilderness.
Origin: scape2 + goat (translation of Hebrew ‘ēz ’ōzēl, goat that escapes, misreading of ‘ăzā’zēl, Azazel).