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Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 1 decade ago

Whats the origin of the word 'Scapegoat'?

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Scapegoats are found in the Bible, Leviticus 16:8, 10, 26. The scapegoat was released, in a ceremony, into the wilderness to carry away the sins of Israel away from the camp... Nowadays, when we say we are a scapegoat, we say we are being blamed for somebody else's wrongdoing...

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Scapegoat Origin

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Under the laws of Moses, the ancient ritual once observed on the Hebrew Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) actually involved two goats. One, known as "the Lord's goat," was sacrificed during the rites. The other goat, over whose head the high priest had confessed the sins of his people, was then taken into the wilderness and allowed to escape, symbolically taking all the sins with him and giving everyone a fresh start, sin-wise. This lucky goat was known as the "escape goat," or "scapegoat."

    There's a bit more to this story of the origin of "scapegoat," however. The Hebrew word for the goat set free in the original Biblical text was "Azazel." Translators of the Bible into English interpreted "Azazel" as a variant on the Hebrew phrase for "goat that departs," and thus came up with "escape goat." But it's possible that they were mistaken. "Azazel" was, some authorities believe, the name of a powerful demon who was believed to rule the wilderness. The "escape goat," goes this theory, was designated "Azazel's goat" in the ritual, and the priest was actually loading all the sins onto the demon's goat and then booting it out the door.

    In any case, "scapegoat" entered the English language with Tyndale's translation of the Bible in 1530, and by the early 19th century was being used in a secular sense to describe anyone who is blamed for the sins or faults of another. The irony here is that in the original ceremony the "scapegoat" was set free without punishment, while modern "scapegoats" endure all the punishment deserved by others.

  • 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 more widely used as a metaphor, referring to someone who is blamed for misfortunes, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. Another term for scapegoat is fall guy.

    Source(s): wikipedia
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Biblical from the Old Testament, forget which book.

    The sins of the people were placed on a goat which was then banished into the desert.

    So the scapegoat is the person who gets all the blame

  • 1 decade ago

    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. From Tyndale’s 1530 translation:

    And Aaron cast lottes ouer the .ii. gootes: one lotte for the Lorde, and another for a scape~goote.

    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 the 19th century that scapegoat acquired its current, wider sense. All prior uses of scapegoat had been in terms of the Leviticus passage. From Mary Russell Mitford’s 1824 Our Village:

    Country-boys...are patient, too, and bear their fate as scape-goats, (for all sins whatsoever are laid as matters of course to their door,...), with amazing resignation.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago


    Whats the origin of the word 'Scapegoat'?

    Source(s): whats origin word 39 scapegoat 39:
  • actually its biblical. They used to sacrifice goats to attone for the sins of people ont he Jewish day of atonement Yom Kipper. They would bring 2 goats to the temple and sacrifice one of them and the other they would transfer the sins so to speak of the people to it and take it to the wilderness and let it free carrying the sins away with it. Its in the old testament in Leviticus.

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