Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that is made to bear the blame of others.
  • n. 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.
  • transitive v. To make a scapegoat of.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In the Mosaic Day of Atonement ritual, a goat symbolically imbued with the sins of the people, and sent out alive into the wilderness while another was sacrificed.
  • n. Someone punished for the error or errors of someone else.
  • v. To punish someone for the error or errors of someone else; to make a scapegoat of.
  • v. To blame something for the problems of a given society without evidence to back up the claim.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A goat upon whose head were symbolically placed the sins of the people, after which he was suffered to escape into the wilderness.
  • n. Hence, a person or thing that is made to bear blame for others.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In the ancient Jewish ritual, a goat on which the chief priest, on the day of atonement, symbolically laid the sins of the people. The goat was then driven into the wilderness. Lev. xvi.
  • n. One who is made to bear the blame of the misdeeds of others.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. someone who is punished for the errors of others

Etymologies

scape2 + goat (translation of Hebrew 'ēz 'ōzēl, goat that escapes, misreading of 'ăzā'zēl, Azazel).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Coined by Tyndale from scape +‎ goat, interpreting Hebrew עזאזל ("Azazel") (Leviticus 16:8, 10, 26), from an interpretation as coming from עז (ez, "goat") and אוזל (ozél, "escapes"). First attested 1530. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • Is it a deem on (pile-on) in lieu of a demon?

    February 20, 2011

  • What could be more mysterious and serious? It is more a scrapgoat instead of scapegoat. What is needed is transformation in stead of projection! Is not a-tone-ment meant to be new (no (noo ( new))) harm-onics?

    February 20, 2011

  • From the Wordnik definitions page for this word: "In the ancient Jewish ritual, a goat on which the chief priest, on the day of atonement, symbolically laid the sins of the people. The goat was then driven into the wilderness."

    I worked during 2 decades for county and municpal government. When the economic boom was in full force and getting long in the tooth, builders and developers and their clients cried foul because there were not enough government employees to review and approve their fields of dreams, issue permits, and perform required inspections. So government hired more workers to make them happy. When plans for those fields of dreams were approved and the economy crashed (the writing was on the wall the whole time), their financing burned in a heap, and they had to lay off all the boom-time employees and/or let their temporary LLP's go out of business; they blamed government for the faults in their own judgment and business acumen and began to complain and clamor that government was to big and that the workers too well-off. So government fired, furloughed, and laid off workers. The complaining business people didn't see the crash coming and decided to scapegoat local government for their shortsighted, business-crushing errors, in embarrassing and disingenuous public outcries...

    Now the same folks with such poor judgment want to punish government by punishing the employees of said government. Lose your business because of your poor judgment? Punish government workers. Want to build a subdivision? Punish government workers. Want to get back at someone because your bad decisions or ignorance cost you profits and pension money? Punish government workers. Want the police and fire/rescue responders to be at your house in a time of need within 5 minutes? Punish government workers. Want to farm pigs or run a junkyard in a concentrated subdivision but zoning regulations won't allow it? Punish government workers. Want minimum wage government service employees to treat you like a customer at a generic fast-food joint? Punish government workers. Its all the rage. Blame government employees. Punish government workers. Your voice and vote really counts. Make someone pay, but please don't acknowledge your own ineptitude or selfishness. Punish government workers. Never target bankers, corporations, financiers or politicians, or, heaven forbid, yourself. Punish government workers. Make government pay. That's the ticket. Have fun dodging the potholes and carrying water from the community well.

    February 20, 2011

  • The word was coined by William Tyndale . . . in his influential translation of the Bible in 1530. Tyndale formed scapegoat from scape, an obsolete form of escape . . . . Tyndale used this word to translate the Hebrew word ʽazāzēl, . . . which he read as ʽezāzēl, or “the goat that departs”. The actual Hebrew word, however, does not mean “the goat that departs”; it is a proper name of uncertain derivation.
    — “scapegoat”. The Mavens’ Word of the Day.
    intended as translation of Hebrew ʽazāzēl (probably name of a demon), as if ʽēz 'ōzēl goat that departs
    — “scapegoat”. Merriam-Webster Online.

    February 19, 2011