Promoting improved services for troubled youth

since 1982

Somebody's got my goat
He must have gone a-strollin'
Though he was old enough to vote
He's lost, strayed or stollen
When he began to feel his oats
He went out chasing nanny goats
You never struck such a giddy old buck
Has anybody seen my goat?

Americans are credited for coining the phrase because the first non-US citation is from English author John Galsworthy's 1924 story, "White Monkey":  "That had got the chairman's goat! - Got his goat? What expressions they used nowadays!"
 
Sources:


Early Sports and Pop Culture History Blog
Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus
The Phrasefinder

Boxing journalists were among the first to popularize the expression. According to the American Dialect Society, the following was included in the Kansas City Star, Nov. 22, 1905, p. 21: "No, none of them can punch like Corbett. He got my goat that day and he got it good."

The Jersey Journal, March 21, 1906, p. 2 referenced how, not only could someone get another person's goat, but a person could also lose their goat by losing their composure. "Joseph Dunn, 24 years old, of 88 Beacon Avenue, lost "his goat" yesterday 

when small boys with hard snowballs used him for a target."


There was even a song published in 1908, "Somebody's Got My Goat"

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Includes a pewter goat in a keepsake velvet pouch, Goatkeeper story card, numbered membership card and sticker
Goatkeeper Herd - Group Set of 10
Includes 10 goatkeeper sets: 1/64 goat figure, Goatkeeper story card, numbered membership card and sticker
Goatkeeper Tokens - Group Set of 10
Includes 10 International Goatkeepers Society wooden nickels


"Get Your Goat" - the expression


One popular explanation tells the story of race horses who were kept calm before races by a companion goat.  If someone wanted the horse to run poorly, he took the goat to upset the horse.

A 1904 book, "Life in Sing Sing," identifies "goat" as a slang term for "anger, to exasperate."

Gets My Goat.  Makes you mad.  Elicits an emotional rather than logical response.  Annoys severely. 

This expression, while known to most Americans and used since the early 1900s, does not have its beginnings documented.  According to H.L. Mencken in American Language (1945), the saying probably originated around horse racing tracks.  He was told that there was a practice among some horse trainers of quieting a particularly high-strung horse by putting a goat in its stall.  Opponents would “Get One’s Goat” by taking it from the stall, causing the horse to become unsettled and lose the race.


The International Goatkeepers Society is a fun and effective self-control tool for children and adults.  Available as individual keepsake pewter gifts and herd sets of 10 for "kids."

(Somebody’s Got My Goat; words by Edward Madden, music by Theodore Morse. [15640] F. B. Haviland pub. Co., New York, N. Y. C 182830, June 3, 1908.)