The Bible depicts a ritual in which a goat is sent out into the desert bearing the faults of the people of Israel. The word scapegoat first occurred in the earliest English translation of the Bible, and it has come to mean any individual punished for the misdeeds of others.

When a politician gets caught lying, he or she might use an assistant as a scapegoat. Somehow the lie will wind up being the assistant's fault. Your mom might tell you to use her as a scapegoat if you need to. So if your friends want you to go to a wild party and you don't want to, you should tell them your mom won't let you. That way, they will be mad at her and not at you. A fall guy is similar to a scapegoat, but it is mostly used if your scheme has been found out and one of your group of schemers must take the consequences.

Definitions of scapegoat
  1. noun
    someone who is punished for the errors of others
    synonyms: whipping boy
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    type of:
    an unfortunate person who suffers from some adverse circumstance
  2. verb
    blame or punish someone for the errors of others
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    type of:
    blame, fault
    put or pin the blame on
Word Family
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