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50 Mistreated Words and Desecrated Phrases: Escape Goat

This is a ba-a-adly misused phrasing.

"Scapegoat” is actually a biblical term. The word appears in Leviticus 16. In Old Testament times, led by a priest, the Jewish people would symbolically place their own sins on a goat. The animal would then be sent off into the wilderness, carrying the sins of the people away with him.

So, in a sense, the scapegoat did provide the people with an escape of sorts. But that’s somewhat a matter of semantics.

As centuries passed, the term “scapegoat” gained broader meaning.

It’s now used to designate anyone who bears the blame for another’s fault.

Let’s sum this up easily.

If your livestock is loose, you may have a real escape goat. But if you blame someone else for leaving the gate open, then we’re talking about a scapegoat.

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