noun \ˈskāp-ˌgōt\

: a person who is unfairly blamed for something that others have done

Full Definition of SCAPEGOAT

:  a goat upon whose head are symbolically placed the sins of the people after which he is sent into the wilderness in the biblical ceremony for Yom Kippur
a :  one that bears the blame for others
b :  one that is the object of irrational hostility

Examples of SCAPEGOAT

  1. The CEO was made the scapegoat for the company's failures.
  2. <companies often use the economy as a scapegoat to avoid taking responsibility for dropping sales>


1scape; intended as translation of Hebrew ʽazāzēl (probably name of a demon), as if ʽēz 'ōzēl goat that departs—Lev 16:8(Authorized Version)
First Known Use: 1530


transitive verb

Definition of SCAPEGOAT

:  to make a scapegoat of
scape·goat·ism \-ˌgō-ˌti-zəm\ noun

First Known Use of SCAPEGOAT



noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In the Old Testament, a goat that was symbolically burdened with the sins of the people and then killed on Yom Kippur to rid Jerusalem of its iniquities. Similar rituals were held elsewhere in the ancient world to transfer guilt or blame. In ancient Greece, human scapegoats were beaten and driven out of cities to mitigate calamities. In early Roman law, an innocent person was allowed to assume the penalty of another; Christianity reflects this notion in its belief that Jesus died to atone for the sins of mankind.


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