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What is the etymology of the idiomatic expression to get your goat?

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To "get one's goat" means to greatly annoy someone. It dates to circa 1900. According to H.L.Mencken (http://www.answers.com/topic/h-l-mencken%29, this phrase is from American horse racing. Trainers would put a goat in a racing horse's stall to calm it; if the goat was removed, the horse would likely become agitated. However, there is no firm evidence for this origin.

Or, this may be a mispronunciation of "get your goad". A goad is a pointed rod used to urge on livestock. A modern equivalent of a goad is the cattle prod.

Or maybe quite literally, it seems to me that if a shepherd's goat is stolen, he'd be rightly pissed off.

There is an old French phrase "prendre la chèvre" which also means approximately "to get your goat" or "to take away the goat". Various places suggest this is because in old times a person's goat would be their only source of milk, so they'd be understandably miffed if someone took it!

Another possible origin of the phrase lies the earliest known reference to it - the book Life in Sing Sing, of 1904, in which goat is glossed as prison slang for "anger." I think this may be the key. After all, goats do, with much provocation, get angry. To bring out the "goat" in someone may take some doing, but will eventually have dramatic results.
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