Getting Your Goat: No, Really. Now I Have Your Goat.

Hello, everyone.

It’s time for another installment of Bill’s Bologna. It’s two days late, but hey, here it is!

We all know that when you get someone’s goat, it means you get the best of them. Why a goat? Why can’t you get their…  money… food… beer… prized possession, instead?

Well you’re about to find out.

This one dates back to farmers of Nineteenth Century England, dealing with their…

You guessed goats, didn’t you? If you did, you’d be wrong.
It’s cows. Cows is the answer.

Anyway, farmers kept their dairy cows in stables at night. When a dairy cow became agitated, it produced bad milk. & it being the Nineteenth Century & all, veterinary science was not anywhere near the field it is today. What was the best solution to get a cow to stop being stressed? Well, I think that answer is pretty obvious, isn’t it?

You bring in this guy. Durr:


For some reason (I promise I’ll get around to researching this), farmers of the day believed that goats possessed some weird cow-calming effect. Competition was very strong among the farmers & people held grudges. It was very common for a dairy farmer to steal another one’s goat to encourage their cows to produce bad milk. They’d have gotten the best of their rival by getting their goat.

There are other similar alleged origins as well. These involve keeping the goats in the stables of racehorses scheduled to race the next day because, apparently goats have a weird horse-calming effect as well.

Considering those scenarios are so similar, I wouldn’t be surprised if one evolved from the other, or if they both happened independently.

At any rate, now you know where this came from. Superstition & people who just want to have a glass of cold, uncurdled milk with their cookies. I mean biscuits. We’re talking about England, here.

Now you know; you’re welcome.


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Filed under Etymology

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