get someone's goat

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Origin uncertain; it has been suggested that the term may be derived from French prendre la chèvre (literally to take the goat), or refer to the stealing of a goat mascot from a military unit, etc.[1]



get someone's goat (third-person singular simple present gets someone's goat, present participle getting someone's goat, simple past got someone's goat, past participle (UK) got someone's goat or (US) gotten someone's goat)

  1. (informal) To annoy or infuriate someone.
    Synonyms: get someone's nanny, get someone's nanny-goat, get under one's goat, (Australia, colloquial, vulgar) give someone the shits; see also Thesaurus:annoy, Thesaurus:enrage
    It really gets my goat when inconsiderate people drop litter in public.
    • 1915, Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, chapter XXIII, in Uneasy Money, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton and Company, published 17 March 1916, OCLC 7561201, page 306:
      If he had legged it on his own account, because what he heard me say got his goat, I could understand that.
    • 1924 October, John Galsworthy, “The Mark Falls”, in The White Monkey, London: William Heinemann Ltd., published November 1924, OCLC 25115838, part II, page 123:
      "Unfortunately," said Soames, "there's no such thing as luck in properly regulated assurance, as we shall find, or I'm much mistaken. I shouldn't be surprised if an action lay against the Board for gross negligence!" That had got the Chairman's goat!—Got his goat? What expressions they used nowadays!
    • 1941 May, “Milestone”, in T. Orchard Lisle, editor, The Log, volume 36, number 8, San Francisco, Calif.: Miller Freeman Publishers, OCLC 654678803, page 34:
      But there's one litte thing that gets my goat, / That certainly strikes a sour note. / It's that Southern Ship who has my place— / With her larger decks and her faster pace.
    • 1962 February 1, Ken Kesey, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Signet Books; 225location=New York, N.Y.), New American Library, OCLC 919653166; republished New York, N.Y.: Signet, New American Library, February 1963, OCLC 970608140, page 95:
      It sure did get their goat; they turned without saying a word and walked off toward the highway, red-necked, us laughing behind them. I forget sometimes what laughter can do.
    • 2002, Barry Winbolt, “Looking for New Ideas”, in Difficult People: A Guide to Handling Difficult Behaviour, Seaford, East Sussex: ISR Publishing, Institute for Social Relations, published 2005, →ISBN, section 2, pages 191–192:
      Sometimes people are quite simply intent on riling us; on getting our goat. [...] If you don't want them to get your goat, don't let them know where it is.
    • 2005, Sandy Santistevan, chapter 7, in Song of the Cicada: A Novel, Lincoln, Neb.: iUniverse, →ISBN, page 79:
      As Sandra Strain had seen it, as quickly as Natty had gotten her goat, she had slaughtered it by being apologetic. This was not what the girl had anticipated, nor wanted to hear.



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2022), “goat”, in Online Etymology Dictionary; Michael Quinion (created 26 June 1999, last updated 3 December 2014), “Get one’s goat”, in World Wide Words.