scapegoat

[skeyp-goht]
noun
1.
a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.
2.
Chiefly Biblical. a goat let loose in the wilderness on Yom Kippur after the high priest symbolically laid the sins of the people on its head. Lev. 16:8,10,26.
verb (used with object)
3.
to make a scapegoat of: Strike leaders tried to scapegoat foreign competitors.

Origin:
1520–30; scape2 + goat

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
scapegoat (ˈskeɪpˌɡəʊt)
 
n
1.  a person made to bear the blame for others
2.  Old Testament a goat used in the ritual of Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16); it was symbolically laden with the sins of the Israelites and sent into the wilderness to be destroyed
 
vb
3.  (tr) to make a scapegoat of
 
[C16: from escape + goat, coined by William Tyndale to translate Biblical Hebrew azāzēl (probably) goat for Azazel, mistakenly thought to mean ``goat that escapes'']

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

scapegoat
1530, "goat sent into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement, symbolic bearer of the sins of the people," coined by Tyndale from scape (n.) + goat, to translate L. caper emissarius, a mistranslation in Vulgate of Heb. 'azazel (Lev. xvi:8,10,26), which was read as 'ez ozel
"goat that departs," but is actually the proper name of a devil or demon in Jewish mythology (sometimes identified with Canaanite deity Aziz). Jerome's mistake also was followed by Martin Luther (der ledige Bock), Symmachus (tragos aperkhomenos), and others (cf. Fr. bouc émissaire). The Revised Version (1884) restores Azazel. Meaning "one who is blamed or punished for the mistakes or sins of others" first recorded 1824; the verb is attested from 1943.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

scapegoat definition


A person or group that is made to bear blame for others. According to the Old Testament, on the Day of Atonement, a priest would confess all the sins of the Israelites over the head of a goat and then drive it into the wilderness, symbolically bearing their sins away.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Scapegoat definition


Lev. 16:8-26; R.V., "the goat for Azazel" (q.v.), the name given to the goat which was taken away into the wilderness on the day of Atonement (16:20-22). The priest made atonement over the scapegoat, laying Israel's guilt upon it, and then sent it away, the goat bearing "upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited." At a later period an evasion or modification of the law of Moses was introduced by the Jews. "The goat was conducted to a mountain named Tzuk, situated at a distance of ten Sabbath days' journey, or about six and a half English miles, from Jerusalem. At this place the Judean desert was supposed to commence; and the man in whose charge the goat was sent out, while setting him free, was instructed to push the unhappy beast down the slope of the mountain side, which was so steep as to insure the death of the goat, whose bones were broken by the fall. The reason of this barbarous custom was that on one occasion the scapegoat returned to Jerusalem after being set free, which was considered such an evil omen that its recurrence was prevented for the future by the death of the goat" (Twenty-one Years' Work in the Holy Land). This mountain is now called el-Muntar.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
Seems to me that the elderly professor is being made a scapegoat in this affair.
It is entirely possible that he is being set up to be a scapegoat, while the
  perpetrators walk away.
He was a scapegoat, he said, for a common failure of foresight and courage.
When the players embrace him, the fans who have been unfairly making him a
  scapegoat will forgive him.
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