[Ads-l] Get one's goat

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 3 15:44:10 UTC 2014

Here is an instance of "got his goat" in the important boxing domain
dated Nov. 18, 1905. In this instance, the phrase "the crowd got his
goat" meant a fighter lost his composure and was unable to fight
effectively. Douglas Wilson has cogently commented on the sense of
"losing your composure" and its connection to losing one's goat.

Note, the instance below appeared after Stephen Goranson's find from
Oct. 21, 1905 which was about table manners.

Date: November 18, 1905
Newspaper: The Washington Times
Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Quote Page: 8
Column: 1
Database: Newspapers.com

Article title: Bloomin' Briton Won Hands Down
Subtitle 01: Yankee Sailor Had No Chance Whatever
Subtitle 02: Made Miserable Showing
Subtitle 03: American Couldn't Fight and Had Stage Fright - Was
Whipped From Very Start
Author: Tad

[Begin excerpt]
Jack was a scrawney looking tar. He
looked as though the beans did not
agree with him at all. Jack was at
sea. Well, he was not exactly, either.
I think the crowd got his goat, or the
idea of fighting - one or the other - be-
cause he did not say boo and sat down
like a mope. Tom Sharkey, the referee,
was as busy as a bird dog telling the
sailors what to do and how to do it.
[End excerpt]


On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 10:17 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Get one's goat
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 9:15 AM, Michael Quinion wrote:
>> Thanks to Garson O'Toole for the 1903 citation, to to others for prompting
>> me to update my piece about the idiom, which is at bit.ly/1FNUlko .
>> In it, I note there a widely circulated joke from the 1880s that uses "get
>> my goats", which may have some bearing on the origin of the expression.
>> Your comments are welcomed.
> Garson noted in a followup post that the Indianapolis Sun item was
> misdated by NewspaperArchive -- the likely date for that was 1908, not
> 1903.
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2014-October/134508.html
> So Stephen Goranson's find from Oct. 21, 1905 (Public Opinion) is
> still the earliest known use of the full expression. See:
> http://www.vocabulary.com/articles/wordroutes/getting-ones-goat-can-you-help-solve-the-mystery/
> --bgz
> --
> Ben Zimmer
> http://benzimmer.com/
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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