[Ads-l] "Get My Goat" - antedating 1900

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 4 02:13:32 UTC 2016

Crowdsourcing in action... Jeff Otjen, who supplied the 1900 cite, had
listened to the Lexicon Valley podcast where I presented the excellent
research of Stephen, Peter, and others, and challenged listeners to find an


On Fri, Jun 3, 2016 at 7:04 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> A reader of my blog alerted me to an example of "get my goat" five years
> older than the previously known "earliest" example found, I believe, by
> Stephen Goranson.
> In my earlier blogpost, I surmised that the expression may have originated
> in the Navy, and made its way into boxing circles through Navy boxers.
> Most of the early examples of use were in boxing reports; an early
> explanation of the expression said it was naval slang; and the Navy had a
> long history of having goats as mascots (or sources of milk) on ships (the
> Naval Academy's mascot is still a Goat).  This newly noted reference, from
> November, 1900, shows the idiom in an excerpt from a letter home from a
> sailor; who assures people back home that he is going to come home when his
> enlistment expires, "unless some Navy boxer gets my goat."
> "My enlistment expires June 15, 1904," writes Krebs, "when I return to
> Atchison [Kansas], unless some boxer gets my goat."
>  The Topeka State Journal, November 28, 1900, page 2 (chronicling America).
> See my "Get My Goat" Update.
> http://esnpc.blogspot.com/2016/06/get-my-goat-update-navy-boxers-in.html

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

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