whipping boy

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whipping boy

A person or thing that is blamed for problems, often those caused by someone or something else. Bobby got tired of being the whipping boy for the mischief caused by his older brothers. Video games have become the whipping boy for the violent behavior displayed by today's youth.
See also: boy, whipping
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

whipping boy

Fig. someone who is punished for someone else's misdeeds. The president has turned out to be the whipping boy for his party.
See also: boy, whipping
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

whipping boy

A scapegoat, as in This department's always been the whipping boy when things don't go well. This expression alludes to the former practice of keeping a boy to be whipped in place of a prince who was to be punished. [Early 1900s]
See also: boy, whipping
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a whipping boy

If someone is a whipping boy, people blame them when things go wrong. `There won't be a white paper,' one minister said yesterday. `It wouldn't solve anything. It would just make the prime minister a whipping boy for both the left and right.' This is the story of how America's favorite whipping boy became her favorite son. Note: A whipping boy was a boy who was educated with a prince and was punished for the prince's mistakes because tutors were not allowed to hit the prince.
See also: boy, whipping
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a ˈwhipping boy

a person who is blamed or punished for the mistakes of another person: The directors are clearly responsible for what happened, but they’re sure to find a whipping boy lower down the company.It was your fault, and I am not going to be your whipping boy.In the past when a royal prince made a mistake in his lessons, another boy was whipped (= punished) for his mistakes.
See also: boy, whipping
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

whipping boy, a

A scapegoat; one who receives the blame and/or punishment for another’s mistakes or misdeeds. The term comes from the early practice of keeping a boy to be whipped in place of a prince who was to be punished. Sir William Petrie used the term figuratively in Ancient Egypt (1914): “With some writers . . . Manetho is the whipping-boy, who must always be flogged when anything is not understood.”
See also: whipping
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
A Labour politician brought out the whipping boy to claim food prices would go up after Brexit.
A gentleman known as William Murray, in his youth, was King Charles I's whipping boy. A disagreeable concept, a despicable, cowardly way of doing things, one is inclined to think.
This chapter, like the rest of the book, transforms the now rich body of work on sentimentality into a way to wrestle with what Barnes presents as a distinctively American paradox: Love's Whipping Boy illuminates the mechanisms by which sentimentality facilitates collaborations that work against one's own interest (such as willingly cooperating with enemies of one's country), but at the same time it facilitates the constitution of a sense of self founded upon the bonds of shared sympathy.
The arguments presented in "The Whipping Boy" apply equally to the wars on drugs and guns.
This rankles Republicans, who see North Korea (along with Cuba) as their last great Communist whipping boy. South Korea's December 1997 election of Kim Dae Jung, a democracy advocate and former political prisoner, did not sit well with Republicans, either.
From the time of John Dryden's deprecatory criticism of the Metaphysical poets, Cleveland has been a whipping boy for them, largely because his conceits are profuse and cosmetic rather than integral to his thought.
DOCTORS said yesterday the Health Secretary is using GPs as "the whipping boy" over the A&E crisis because he failed over the 111 nonemergency number,
The Rev Martin Reynolds said his friend Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, has been made a "whipping boy" in the row.
It was during Berbatov's barren run last term that Ferguson wondered whether the Bulgarian was delighted to carry on being the 'whipping boy' as United fans joined pundits in dishing out stick to him over his performances.
It wasn't pleasant people using me as a whipping boy. But, you know what, it wasn't a big deal" - Jonathan Ross on the crude calls he and Russell Brand made to actor Andrew Sachs.
The whipping boy Gordon Brown hasn't been blamed for the bad weather.
But Eddings thinks that methyl bromide is "a whipping boy." He says, "The amount from commercial agriculture that goes into the atmosphere is a very small percentage of the overall amount.
British food has often been seen as the whipping boy of international cuisine, but it appears we have found a way to impress in the kitchen - we have simply stolen dishes from other countries.
But this isn't the fault of the sick and they shouldn't be used as the whipping boy.
Television violence is a whipping boy, a stand-in for other clashes, real or imagined.