Scapegoat

An innocent person deliberately blamed for wrongdoing, usually by the guilty parties.

This always seemed like a strange word to me: why a goat? The concept originally comes from the Bible, from the Book of Leviticus, when a goat is designated to take on the sins of the people and be cast out into the desert, thus freeing the people from their sins.

The actual word scapegoat seems to have entered the English language in the 16th century, with scape deriving from escape, i.e. the scapegoat allows the guilty to escape punishment. Continue reading