Whipping Boy - Meaning and History of Expression

The expression "whipping boy" (English Whipping boy) is today used figuratively to refer to a person who is unfairly punished for someone else's fault. But there was a time when boys were really taken for punishment for other people's misdeeds. This position was held at the English court in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The whipping boys came from the idea of ​​the divine rights of kings, which says that kings are appointed by God, and it is implied that no one but the king is worthy to punish the king's son. But since the king was rarely around to punish his son when necessary, it was extremely difficult for the young prince's educators to enforce the rules of education. But you can punish another child.

William murray

Whipping boys were brought up with the prince from birth, were his companions in games and educational activities. Friendship and affection arose between the children. This is what the teachers exploited, punishing a loved one instead of the guilty prince. Whipping boys were flogged in front of the future monarch in the belief that such disobedience would never happen again. Whipping boys were usually of noble birth, but not always - they could be an orphan or a foundling.

Life for the whipping boys was not easy, with the future often promising vast prospects. For example, King Charles I of England made his whipping boy, William Murray, the first Earl of Mansfield.

Did you know that the expression "whipping boy" has a synonym - a scapegoat, who he is and where he was released can be found in the article on our website.