What is the origin of the word scapegoat?

What did that goat do wrong to deserve all the blame?

In Dutch the translation is: "zondebok", also a goat. Why the goat?

12 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best answer

    It comes from the Bible.The people of those times were aware of the many wrongs they did and they believed that an angry god would demand that they pay for these "sins" eventually so a goat was brought out and symbolically laden ed with the entire wrongs of the community and driven out into the wasteland.carrying with it their many wrongs and so they thought to appease the god(s)Today we would say someone took the blame

  • Wisdom
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Scapegoat

    This term, for one who is punished for the misdeeds of others, is the result of a mistranslation. The term was coined in 1530 by William Tyndale, who misread the Hebrew word 'azazel, the proper name of Canaanite demon, as 'ez ozel, literally the goat that departs. In Leviticus 16:8, the scriptures describe how two goats should be prepared for an offering, lots should be drawn, and one should be sacrificed to the Lord as a sin-offering, and the other given to Azazel and set free in the wilderness bearing the sins of the people.

    To be fair to Tyndale, he was not the only one to make this error. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, uses tragos apopompaios, or the goat that is sent out. The Vulgate Bible refers to the second goat as a caper emissarius, or the emissary goat. Coverdale's 1535 Bible refers to it as a free goat. But it was Tyndale who coined the term scapegoat, or scapegoote as he spelled it. The King James Version retains Tyndale's scapegoat, but most modern translations have corrected the error and refer to Azazel.

    It was not until 1824 that the word acquired its current, wider sense. All prior usages have been in terms of the Leviticus passage. The verb form appeared in 1943.

    Source(s): (Sources: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition; Merriam-Webster Online; Carver's History of English In Its Own Words) http://www.wordorigins.org/
  • 1 decade ago

    The scapegoat was a goat that was driven off into the wilderness as part of the ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in Judaism during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem. The rite is described in Leviticus 16.

    The word is also used as a metaphor, referring to one who is blamed for misfortunes, often as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. Also, referred to as the Fall guy.

    Source(s): wikipedia
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The scapegoat was a goat that was driven off into the wilderness as part of the ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in Judaism during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem. The rite is described in Leviticus 16.

    The word is also used as a metaphor, referring to one who is blamed for misfortunes, often as a way of distracting attention from the real causes.

    There are many more references at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scapegoat

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  • 1 decade ago

    A scapegoat is someone who takes the blame, even if it wasn't their fault. There was an article in Fortean Times about this about 6 months ago. There was a place in Eastern Europe that until quite recently used to drive out a goat every winter to symbolise driving out the ills of the community.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think the reason why goat rather than some other animal is its association with the devil. In olden days, townsfolk would get a goat, heap scorn and abuse upon it, treat it rather savagely and finally sacrifice it. The idea was the goat took the blame for all the wrong things and evil-doings that had befallen the townsfolk who, by pinning the blame on the goat, would escape suffering the consequences of their actions themselves.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    In the Old Testament, the Israelites were instructed by God (or if you don't believe, by Moses) to drive a goat into the wilderness on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The High Priest would "transfer" the sins of the people for the whole year onto its head.

    Source(s): Leviticus 16.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Years ago in Bible times, people who sin against God, the sins were put on to a goat then goat was sent out into the desert, hence the name scapegoat

  • 1 decade ago

    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.

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=scapego...

  • Bebe
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Its a jewish story about a goat driven into the wilderness as an atonement. Something that is not guilty but takes the punishment.

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