The noun patsy refers to (1) a person who is easily taken advantage of, and (2) a scapegoat. The exact origins of the word are unknown, but it may be related to the Italian pazzo, meaning fool. In any case, patsy is American in origin, and it first appeared in the late 19th century. Though the word is used fairly often, to American ears it has a retro, mid-20th-century ring.
Hopkins said Howard is being used as a patsy and the blame may actually lie with higher authorities on the Muir campus. [Pasadena Star-News]
He is played for a patsy – again – and is set up for a murder by a floozy and her beau. [Montreal Gazette]
That Illinois politicians, elected or appointed, were patsies at the negotiating table is not the fault of the state’s employees. [Freeport Journal-Standard]