At first glance, you might think "scapegrace" has something in common with "scapegoat," our word for a person who takes the blame for someone else’s mistake or calamity. Indeed, the words do share a common source - the verb "scape," a variant of "escape" that was once far more common than it is today. "Scapegrace," which first appeared in English in the mid-18th century (over 200 years after "scapegoat"), arrived at its meaning through its literal interpretation as "one who has escaped the grace of God." (Two now-obsolete words based on a similar notion are scape-thrift, meaning "spendthrift," and "want-grace," a synonym of "scapegrace.") In ornithological circles, "scapegrace" can also refer to a loon with a red throat, but this sense is rare.
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