What Does the Word Scapegoat Mean and Where Did the Word Scapegoat Come From?

A Scapegoat is a member of a group singled out for undeserved blame or negative treatment.

Where Did the Word Scapegoat Come From

The word “scapegoat” is a mistranslation of the word Azazel.

An early Greek translation of the Old Testament incorrectly translated the word Azazel as “ez ozel”, which means “the goat that departs”, and translated the word as “tragos apopompaios”, meaning “goat sent out”.

William Tyndale then translated the Latin “caper emissarius” as “(e)scape goat” in his 1530 version of the Bible, which was later appropriated in the King James Version of the Bible in 1611.

The original term “escape goat” eventually got shortened with use.

The term refers to a biblical story in Leviticus (16:10), in which God asked for one goat to be sacrificed to him and another, carrying all the sins of the Israelites, to be set free in the desert, thus carrying away all the sins.

After that, a goat sacrifice became the traditional ritual of the Hebrew Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur.

Today, symbolic rituals replace the animal sacrifice, but the story is still told.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment