get one's goat (1906)
gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Oct 3 22:27:08 UTC 2014
One further story: The story of the Brahmin and the goat appears to have been very widespread at the end of the nineteenth century (http://bit.ly/1oHbOkJ). BB
On Oct 3, 2014, at 1:24 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> I thought that the deception of Jacob with the goat-skin might have been =
> behind this, but I cannot see any evidence for it on Google. Another =
> possibility is the goat that was eaten by a thief and then proclaimed =
> Patrick to be a saint. The earliest I see for that is 1809 =
> (http://bit.ly/Z23TrH), but tying that to the idiom seems more of a =
> reach than the Genesis story.
> Perhaps more likely is the Norwegian "The Youth and the North Wind," in =
> which the protagonist obtains a magic goat that is then switched out by =
> a rogue. The protagonist tries to show off his magic goat, but of course =
> the goat he then has is just the ordinary sort. The earliest I see this =
> is 1865 (http://bit.ly/1CIZ9Ge, p. 134). It was written or translated by =
> John Godfrey Saxe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Godfrey_Saxe) who =
> lived form 1816 to 1887. His transmission of the "Hindoo" "Blind Men and =
> the Elephant" is still well told in the English-speaking world, so it is =
> not unlikely that something like his goat story also became popular.=20
> It's a little difficult to tie the tale to the meaning of the idiom, but =
> no more so than the racing horse origin.=20
> I have a problem also with deriving this from the eggcorn "goad" because =
> I can't imagine people saying "got my goad." (There are a handful of =
> hits for that expression on Google and Google Books but only in this =
> century or a little before.)
> Benjamin Barrett
> Formerly of Seattle, WA
> Learn Ainu! https://sites.google.com/site/aynuitak1/home
> On Oct 3, 2014, at 9:38 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>> The mysterious origins of "get one's goat" came up on Twitter
>> recently. HDAS and GDoS both start with "goat" glossed as "anger" in
>> _Life in Sing Sing_ (1904) and have cites for the full phrase starting
>> in 1908. I was able to find a few cites from 1906 in the Genealogy
>> Bank archive.
>> 1906 June 2 _Jersey Journal_ 3/3 (head & text) Colored Man "Got His
>> Goat." But There Was a Real Goat in It, Too, and Carmody Butted Into
>> Trouble. "Judge, he got my goat," said William Carmody, 23 years old,
>> of 302 Second Street, Hoboken, when arraigned before Judge Higgins in
>> the First Criminal Court on a charge of atrocious assault and battery,
>> preferred by John Bailey, colored, of 276 Eleventh Street.
>> 1906 Sept 7 _Daily People_ (New York, NY) 2/3 Something or other I
>> said in my criticism of Raiser's letter of the 14th instant must have
>> "got his goat."
>> 1906 Nov 23 _Wilkes-Barre (Penn.) Times_ 7/1 "Step on the old man's
>> feet," said the Kid [sc. Kid McCoy to Jack O'Brien]. "His feet are in
>> the cornfield, and you will get his goat more by keeping on top of
>> them all the time than by stabbing him in the food chopper."
>> The first cite above is about a case involving an actual goat, but the
>> headline indicates that readers would appreciate the double entendre.
>> The same is true of this later cite, also from the Jersey Journal:
>> 1907 Dec 14 _Jersey Journal_ 3/3 It is easy to "get the goat" of the
>> police of the Second Precinct now, for locked up in a cell at the
>> Seventh Street police station is a "Nannie" that was arrested by
>> Roundsman Sniffen for her obstreperous conduct in Jersey Avenue
>> The 11/23/06 cite suggests the expression was in common use in the
>> boxing world. See also the boxing-related treatment of the phrase in
>> Richard Barry's "The Prize Ring" (Pearson's Magazine, July 1910):
>> Here is Barry's explanation of the origin:
>> "Originally this phrase was racing slang. To keep a racehorse from
>> going stale a trainer frequently quarters with him a goat, for the pet
>> relieves the thoroughbred of his loneliness. But intriguers have found
>> that by stealing a goat from a horse a day or two before a great race
>> he can be thrown out of condition. The loss of his favorite companion
>> annoys the horse and he goes into the big event in a highly feminized
>> state of nerves. So, to 'get his goat' is to remove his confidence."
>> Like Michael Quinion, I find the horse-racing story rather dubious,
>> but it's notable that this explanation was given quite early on.
>> If I had to guess, I'd say "goat" developed as an alteration of "goad"
>> (note that _Life in Sing Sing_ glosses "goat" not just as "anger" but
>> "to exasperate") -- for comic effect, or maybe as a kind of prison
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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