Get Someone’s Goat – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Are there actual goats involved in the phrase get someone’s goat or what? That’s a valid question and one I’ll cover in this quick guide to the common phrase we use in the English language. Spoiler alert: there are no goats. So, let’s take a gander and see what all the fuss is over the American idiom get someone’s goat.

Get Someone’s Goat: Meaning Explained

Get Someones Goat Idiom Origin Meaning

To get someone’s goat doesn’t involve any actual goat-napping, so you can breathe a sigh of relief there. Actually, this delightful expression means to annoy or irritate someone to the highest degree.

It’s basically the linguistic equivalent of that itchy tag on the back of your shirt or that one guy who insists on talking through the entire movie. You know the one (it’s my husband).

Origin of the Idiom Get Your Goat

Get Someones Goat Ngram
Get someone’s goat usage trend.

As for the origin of get someone’s goat, the jury is still out on the specifics. But it definitely harks back to the world of horse racing. Goats were often kept with racehorses to keep the horse calm, and a sneaky competitor might “get your goat” to unsettle your horse before a race. This sounds like the plot of a fantastic old-timey heist movie to me, but whether it’s a fact or fiction is still up for debate.

But one of the first recorded instances of it was in 1909 in an American newspaper called “The Stevens Point Daily Journal,” and it reads, “Wouldn’t that get your goat? We’d been transferring the same water all night from the tub to the bowl and back again.”

What Are the Synonyms for Getting Your Goat?

Don’t like the way it sounds? No worries, you can try any of these similar phrases in place of get your goat.

Get Someone’s Goat Sentence Examples

Get Someones Goat Idiom Origin Meaning 1
  • No matter how calm I try to stay, Bob always manages to get my goat with his endless math puns.
  • The way that little yippy dog next door barks all night really gets my goat.
  • You’re just trying to get my goat by eating the last piece of sushi, aren’t you?
  • My son knows how much his sister values her privacy, so he deliberately barges into her room just to get her goat.
  • Can you believe it? She knew what dress I was wearing to the event, and she wore the same one! She’s always trying to get my goat.
  • Don’t let Dan’s sarcastic comments get your goat; he’s deliberately trying to get a rise out of you.
  • I swear, if you try to explain that movie’s weird ending to me, it will really get my goat.
  • The way my husband chews his food so loudly is like he’s doing it just to get my goat at this point.

No Billy Goats Were Harmed in the Making of This Guide

And there we have it, folks! We’ve untangled the mystery of get someone’s goat.’ The next time you feel your blood pressure rising, don’t be afraid to tell someone to stop getting your goat. If you want to learn about more funny idioms like this, check out my other guides!

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