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Get Your Goat

I haven’t heard this expression – get your goat – for a while and since writing this blog I have become intrigued with such idioms. This one typically refers to the reaction when someone does something that provokes, infuriates, or annoys us. According to one source the origin is described as follows:

“The dictionary definition of goat is ‘a ruminant quadruped of the genus Capra’. What’s that got to do with being angry? Given the meaning of ‘get your goat’, we might expect to find goat as a slang term meaning anger or annoyance. That meaning is recorded in the U.S. book Life in Sing Sing, 1904, which goat is given as a slang term for anger.

The phrase originated in the U.S. and the first entry in print that I can find comes from a fanciful story about a burst water pipe that was printed in the U.S. newspaper The Stevens Point Daily Journal, May 1909: “Wouldn’t that get your goat? We’d been transferring the same water all night from the tub to the bowl and back again.””

(For those who are interested, other suggested derivations may be found here.)

This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog explores the idiom “get your goat” and suggests that readers bring to mind something specific that someone says or does to which you would apply this phrase. Think ‘outside of the goat’ for your answers!

  • What does someone say or do that gets your goat?
  • How do you describe the meaning of this expression and the sentiments you experience regarding that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • For what reasons does the other person’s actions or words get your goat?
  • What 3 other words describe the impact, other than ‘gets your goat’?
  • Picturing a goat, what about that visual resonates with your experience of the person and/or situation you have in mind?
  • What about the picture of a goat in your mind’s eye does not resonate?
  • What other animal may describe your experience of the situation or person you are thinking about?
  • Why is that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What idiom about a reaction to feeling provoked may you create to apply to the animal you chose?
  • How do the questions here shift things, if they do, about the person or situation you had in mind for this exercise?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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