English : To Get Someone Goat

What is the origin and meaning of the expression to Get Someone Goat?

This is an expression used in informal contexts. When someone gets your goat he/she makes you very annoyed.

Here are a few examples.

• Shoba got my goat when she accused me of being laid-back.

• I don't know much about Mohan, but Sunita says he gets her goat.

• The way Ram bosses over his parents gets my goat.

The idiom I understand comes from the world of horse racing. Racehorses are supposed to be highly-strung animals. They have a lot of nervous energy and it is a big job trying to keep these animals calm. In the old days, horse trainers used to put a goat in the stalls of these animals in an effort to keep them calm. The two animals used to bond and very often the horse became attached to its companion - the goat. To ensure that a horse did not perform well in an upcoming race, what many rival horse owners used to do was to steal the goat the night before the race. This used to upset the horse very much and as a result it would underperform in the race. So when you say that someone has got your goat, you are comparing yourself to the horse rather than the goat itself.

COURTESY : The Hindu (The National News-Paper) - India

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