Make Your Editor Cry: Escape Goat vs. A Scapegoat

Make Your Editor Cry: Escape Goat vs. A Scapegoat

This one always makes me laugh like a little kid. “A scapegoat” is a biblical animal while an “escape goat” exists as the result of a “fail” of possibly biblical proportions.

A scapegoat is literally a goat upon whose head the sins of the people are symbolically placed, after which it is sent into the wilderness in the biblical ceremony for Yom Kippur. In modern usage, “a scapegoat” is typically one who bears the blame for others or more often one who is the target of irrational hostility.

Now let’s escape reality for a moment and visit the world of so-called “reality” TV. Back in 2002 British Big Brother reality show contestant Jade Goody said, live and on-air, that she felt “like an escape goat.” Since then, the phrase has become somewhat common slang used by ignorant souls who also don’t realize the term should be “scapegoat.” There are now video games, rock bands, craft beers, and urban dictionary definitions dedicated to the term.

Urban dictionary definition: A goat used to escape a hostile or dangerous situation. The escape goat is usually ridden on its back by the escapee. They run very fast and uncontrollably.

If you think I am kidding, look it up for yourself. I suppose I should personally feel grateful that Webster has yet to add it to their lexicon claiming that “escape goat” is a legitimate word as they have done with irregardless. But I suppose there’s always next year.

The proper term is, of course, “scapegoat.”

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