get one's goat (1906)

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Oct 6 14:49:48 UTC 2014

I may be the only horse-player here, so perhaps no one else watched the
telecast of the featured stakes races from Keeneland this past Saturday.
During the broadcast there was a bit about an elder-horse community for
retired thoroughbreds, including a brief glimpse of a stall occupied by a
horse and his two pet goats.


On Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 7:16 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at
> wrote:

> "Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
> > I presented my notion and reviewed a few examples here in 2005:
> >
> >
> Intriguing analysis, Doug. Further below is a 1900 citation for a goat
> viewed as a good luck charm for horses.
> [Begin excerpt from Douglas G. Wilson's analysis]
> Review of the handy on-line newspapers shows that the "goat" in "get
> one's goat" was not strictly confined to this fixed expression, which
> is probably favored by alliteration.
> One's "goat" is apparently more or less one's composure or self-confidence.
> My current speculation is that the original reference was to a
> (metaphoric) mascot (in the old sense of good-luck charm, the opposite
> of jinx or hoodoo). Many sports teams apparently had goat mascots. The
> story about race-horses having goat companions is apparently true.
> [End excerpt from Douglas G. Wilson's analysis]
> Here is a citation with a goat kept by a stable hand.
> Periodical: The Sketch
> Date: August 29, 1900
> Section: The World of Sport
> Article: Racing Notes
> Page 252
> [Begin excerpt]
> Stablelads are all fond of cats, and many of them like to have a goat
> on the premises. I know of one trainer who lost his goat and could not
> win a race of any sort until he got another one. He to this day,
> believes that the death of the goat brought him a long run of bad
> luck. Trainers and racing-men generally are highly charged with
> superstition.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

The American Dialect Society -

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