I'm looking for a word that means someone is redirecting the blame or attention of something. I have a feeling it starts with an "a" or "i", but I'm not sure.

By the way, it's not "divert", I already thought of that.

Here's an example sentence:

"The Yankees Management had instituted a way of ___ to the players..."


8 Answers 8



The practice of singling out a person or group for unmerited blame and consequent negative treatment (From Wiki link above)

In your context:

The Yankees Management had instituted a way of scapegoating the players...



From American Heritage:

To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly

or Incriminating

To cause to appear guilty of a crime or fault; implicate

(Again from American Heritage)

I have to change your sentence slightly to:

The Yankees Management had instituted a way of incriminating the players.

This would mean they had a way of making it look like the players were wrong and thus shift the blame for any wrong doing on to the players.

  • 2
    To me this doesn't read like redirected blame. Either no one was incriminated previously (so no blame to shift, just to assign), or the players are added to those already incriminated. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 18:51

There are only so many words that function alongside blame and which start with a or i.

As far as I can tell, you're looking for the phrase assign blame.

However, I should note that it doesn't necessarily mean deflect or divert—although it can certainly be used to accomplish that purpose.

In your example sentence:

The Yankees Management had instituted a way of assigning blame to the players...


There are multiple words and phrases you can use. Redirect blame or as Mari Lou said, shift blame (or blame-shifting). They both basically mean the same, but I would say blame-shifting has connotations that fit more with what you're looking for.


Though this dictionary isn't as well established as other dictionaries, this at least shows that the example exists in one. It is a phrase, so it makes sense that it doesn't exist in every dictionary, especially those who focus more on words.

  • 1
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 8:40
  • 1
    I don't think "blame-shifting" is widely used in everyday parlance. As a native (British) English speaker, I've never heard it, although would of course understand it immediately. When you Google it, the context seems to be mainly psychology, describing a behavioural symptom of narcissism, sociopathy, and so on. I don't think it's the most appropriate choice for the less pathological behaviour being described in the original post, although it may simply depend on the preference and academic background of the speaker.
    – ajrwhite
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 16:40

In a sports context, I would have to go with punt. From the Oxford English Dictionary (unfortunately paywalled, but the intransitive version of this sense is also quoted in this answer to Can “to punt something” mean “not to do something”?):

punt, v.3

4. N. Amer. colloq.

a. intransitive. To give up, back out; to defer or avoid taking action or responsibility, to ‘pass the buck’. [Attestations omitted]

b. transitive. To avoid, defer, or give up on. Also: to pass responsibility for (something) to.

  • 1969 Cook County (Illinois) Herald 21 May 2/6 So the board decided to punt the matter over to Dist. 54.
  • 1972 Odessa (Texas) Amer. 10 Sept. 16/3 What is your favorite football play?.. I think I'll punt that question.
  • 1983 G. Steele et al. Hacker's Dict. 106 Let's punt the movie tonight.
  • 2005 L. Leff Buried by Times viii. 258 A divided State Department punted the issue to Treasury.

This meaning, of course, developed from the practice in rugby and American football of dropping a ball and then kicking it before it hits the ground, when the player has given up on any chance of actually scoring. So you can add cross-sport insult to injury by saying:

The Yankees Management had instituted a way of punting to the players...


Following @Mari-Lou A 's suggestion of the compound noun 'blame-shifting' I would suggest the compound noun 'blame-deflecting' for two reasons.

  1. 'Shifting' is not quite the same concept as 'deflection'. Deflection, in the context of blame, is a well documented psychological technique and, as such, the wording should be preserved.

Deflection draws attention to the act of avoidance, rather than the end process of the 'shift', which is actually the outcome of deflection.

  1. 'Deflection of blame' is such an idiomatic phrase that it's concept is best expressed by retaining its exact wording, but in compound form.

Deflection of Blame - nation.com



regard something as being caused by.

"The Yankees Management had instituted a way of attributing (the poor results) to the players (effort)"

You should note that, strictly, it doesn't mean redirecting blame, but my gut feel is that this may be the word you're looking for (even if it isn't a perfect match for your needs).


Jason Bassford's excellent answer gives us the A word: assign.

The I word you're looking for might be this one: impute.

In Merriam-Webster, the first definition of impute is given as: "to lay the responsibility or blame for (something) often falsely or unjustly".

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