[Ads-l] Get one's goat

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 3 16:31:03 UTC 2014


This example appears in Peter Reitan's Early Sports and Pop Culture
History Blog post (linked to in my Word Routes column):

http://esnpc.blogspot.com/2014/10/getting-goats-losing-goats-stable-goats.html

I also discussed the example (and quoted it) in the Lexicon Valley podcast.

http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/lexicon_valley/2014/11/lexicon_valley_the_etymology_and_history_of_the_phrase_to_get_one_s_goat.html


On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 10:44 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
>
> 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]
>
> Garson
>
> 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/
>>

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