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To Get one's Goat

Where does the expression come from?

If someone has GOT YOUR GOAT then it mean they have caused you to be annoyed. But where does the expression come from? There are several explanations:

1. Horses of a highly-strung nature were often accompanied by a goat (or a sheep). It was a way of calming a horse down, especially a thoroughbred horse before a race. See horse problems. The legend has it that rivals and crooks deliberately betting against that horse, would steal the goat, resulting in the horse being upset and less able to race. Such practices are uncommon these days (see bookmakers), although it was said to be common in America in the early 20th Century.

2. There is an old French phrase "prendre la chèvre" which also means approximately "to get your goat" or "to take away the goat". Various places suggest this is because in old times a person's goat would be their only source of milk, so they'd be understandably miffed if someone took it!

3. When Captain Cook was on his great voyages of exploration, trying to discover the Great Southern Continent (not found) and the North West Passage (not found), he made some interesting discoveries among the islands of the Pacific. Unfortunately, islanders got his goat, and when they refused to return it, his wrath was vent upon them. Details of the history are worth looking into further.

A few references to these ideas and some variants:





A few things that might "get your goat" these days: spam, annoying pop-ups, spyware, cybersquatters.

The phrase "to get your goat" isn't really anything to do with Chupacabra, which is a modern folklore beastie, the goatsucker, which is alleged to get goats, chickens, and other domestic animals, but there is a shortage of photos of the creature in which it's a scary cryptozoology entity, and the online photos of it tend to look remarkably like mangy coyotes.

There is a Canadian mortgage company whose name is Get My Quote!