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scapegoat

[skeyp-goht] /ˈskeɪpˌgoʊt/
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
1520-1530
1520-30; scape2 + goat
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for scapegoats
  • But dairy farmers say their cows are being made into scapegoats for a gas-guzzling society.
  • As a result, suspected witches often become scapegoats for misfortune and other problems such as failed crops or village feuds.
  • Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience.
  • Old labels no longer fit, and the citizenry seems torn between competing desires for saviors and scapegoats.
  • If citizens are happy, you can't fool them so easily and they don't seek scapegoats.
  • And it sure is convenient to find scapegoats on which to blame the global recession.
  • The government provides useful scapegoats when things go awry.
  • But rich people are the natural scapegoats for economic distress.
  • Faced with problems that lack easy solutions, people often look for scapegoats.
  • Pathological societies in the world are always torn by a search for new scapegoats.
British Dictionary definitions for scapegoats

scapegoat

/ˈskeɪpˌɡəʊt/
noun
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
verb
3.
(transitive) to make a scapegoat of
Word Origin
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 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for scapegoats

scapegoat

n.

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 Latin caper emissarius, itself a translation in Vulgate of Hebrew 'azazel (Lev. xvi:8,10,26), which was read as 'ez ozel "goat that departs," but which others hold to be the proper name of a devil or demon in Jewish mythology (sometimes identified with Canaanite deity Aziz).

Jerome's reading also was followed by Martin Luther (der ledige Bock), Symmachus (tragos aperkhomenos), and others (cf. French bouc émissaire), but the question of who, or what (or even where) is meant by 'azazel is a vexed one. The Revised Version (1884) simply restores Azazel. But the old translation has its modern defenders:

Azazel is an active participle or participial noun, derived ultimately from azal (connected with the Arabic word azala, and meaning removed), but immediately from the reduplicate form of that verb, azazal. The reduplication of the consonants of the root in Hebrew and Arabic gives the force of repetition, so that while azal means removed, azalzal means removed by a repetition of acts. Azalzel or azazel, therefore, means one who removes by a series of acts. ... The interpretation is founded on sound etymological grounds, it suits the context wherever the word occurs, it is consistent with the remaining ceremonial of the Day of Atonement, and it accords with the otherwise known religious beliefs and symbolical practices of the Israelites. [Rev. F. Meyrick, "Leviticus," London, 1882]
Meaning "one who is blamed or punished for the mistakes or sins of others" first recorded 1824; the verb is attested from 1943. Related: Scapegoated; scapegoating. For the formation, cf. scapegrace, also scape-gallows "one who deserves hanging."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scapegoats in Culture

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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scapegoats in the Bible

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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