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#1 2007-08-19 06:20:05

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

"gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

A similar reshaping headed in the opposite direction—“goats me into” for “goads me into”—has already been posted on the forum.

“It really gets my goat” has got to be one of our stranger idioms. No one is really sure where it comes from, even though quite a number of theories have been floated – one says it’s from horseracing, another says it’s from prison slang; there’s no definitive proof for any of these origin stories. (Mr. Word Detective has an entertaining but inconclusive article here: http://www.word-detective.com/111606B.html)

The phrase is therefore ripe for eggcornification, and in fact there are two variants. The more eggcornish of the two is “it gets my goad.” That makes a certain degree of sense. No one wants to be poked with a goad, and the experience would no doubt be a source of irritation. Still, the form is a bit odd: why would the irritating thing “get” your goad, instead of “becoming” the goad?

“Gets my goad” by itself returns more than 200 raw hits, so all the permutations (get/got/getting your/his/hers/etc.) would probably bring in quite a few more. Examples:

Top five things that just gets my goad on the bus:
1. The greasy smear on the window from where someone had leaned their hair-product lathered head. I just look at it and think, bacteria cesspool.
http://www.foxinthesnow.com/archives/2003_05.html

Oh, that reminds me, that since I gave to the Humane Society’s Katrina Fund they have done nothing but hound us for more money and it gets my goad that they keep addressing everything to my husband even though he had nothing to do with it,
http://joanneslife.blogspot.com/2006/01 … ation.html

The next writer uses a subvariant—“gets my goad up.” That word-picture is a bit alarming, but I think phrases like “gets my dander up” or “gets my Irish up” are running a bit of interference:

It gets my goad up even further, when you see interviews that laud her for partying hard, making albums, shopping 24/7 AND writing a novel in her spare time; when really, it’s not her success.
http://www.trashionista.com/2007/04/yay … edn_1.html

“Gets my goad” seems so convincing to some people that they gently ridicule anyone using the standard phrase, “gets my goat.” The first two examples below are a pair taken from the same website – the first writer uses “goat” and gets “corrected.” The opposite situation is enacted in the pair of quotations that follow. And then I end with a bunch of people wondering which form is right. Examples:

But what really gets my goat is once they’ve argued that we’ll get no sleep (we do), that she’ll be in bed with us forever (she’s already mostly out), and that she’ll never sleep through the night (she does)- then, they attack our sex life.
http://www.mothering.com/discussions/ar … 52534.html

You cracked me up when you wrote that comments “get your goat”... the expression is “get my goad,” as in, being goaded into a response… :LOL … but what you said makes for a cooler visual :LOL
http://www.mothering.com/discussions/ar … 52534.html

Oh, and another things that really gets my goad is when people write that they “should of done such and such.” You SHOULD HAVE done such and such!!!!
http://www.imamother.com/forum/viewtopi … 3a83290c51
[Another hapless victim of Skitt’s Law]

Isn’t it gets my goat or have I been hearing wrong all this time or did you simply type the word wrong?
http://www.imamother.com/forum/viewtopi … 3a83290c51

So, who’s right? Is the phrase “get my goat” or “get my goad”?
Well, I decided to do a little research by submitting to the only bastion of authority and light and truth: I Googled both phrases, “Get your goat” and “Get your goad.
http://www.gooblink.com/content/view/17/23/

For example, the phrase get my goat started as “get my goad.”
http://www.tdpri.com/forum/archive/inde … 56914.html

And I never even got to the weirder, less eggcornish variant. But this is long enough—maybe tomorrow.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2007-08-19 06:23:12)

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#2 2007-08-19 13:39:04

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

Very nice find. I do recall hearing it from time to time.

What I really like is the example which explains the imagery. You can’t do much better than a firsthand account…

You cracked me up when you wrote that comments “get your goat”... the expression is “get my goad,” as in, being goaded into a response… :LOL … but what you said makes for a cooler visual :LOL
http://www.mothering.com/discussions/ar … 52534.html

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#3 2007-08-20 00:25:50

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

Yeah, that quotation you cited is one of those things that makes you murmur a quick prayer of thanks to the Eggcorn Gods when you’re eggcorn-hunting.

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#4 2007-08-20 14:15:24

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

What cracks ME up is that the person making the “correction” is admiring the eggcorn requirement of “a cooler visual”—just the way WE do when we spot a particularly clever eggcorn!!

(but why do we use “goat”? do we know, or is it just some phenomenally ancient idiot—er, idiom?)

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#5 2007-08-20 15:19:17

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

Which came first: the goad or the goat?

Looks like Pat even has this question partly covered…
In one of his examples, someone suggests that the original might really have been “goad”...

For example, the phrase get my goat started as “get my goad.”
http://www.tdpri.com/forum/archive/inde … 56914.html

The transition from “goad” to “goat” would follow a common eggcorn pattern of moving from a less familiar word to a more familiar word. And, perhaps a goat simply serves as a representative possession that is being taken away. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least it’s concrete.

If “gets my goad” were truly the original, I’d sure like a more precise explanation of the word choice—“gets” and “goad” —and the related imagery. Loss of the original meaning can be the driving force behind the generation of an eggcorn. So, have we lost the meaning of “gets my goad” or “gets my goat”?

This whole topic just gets my ghost!

Pojo’s Shaman King Site – News, Tips, Bios, Strategies and moreWhen Mari says he really gets her ghost, Choco replies, and your cruel singing really gets MY ghost—-dancing! Then he does oversoul with mick and makes …
www.pojo.com/shamanking/episode_guide/1-50.shtml – 20k – Cached – Similar pages

Thanks for the chain letters [Archive] – Ganesha High School#15 really gets my ghost. You read a nice inspirational email, and them it’s spoiled with garbage that has nothing to do with religion. ...
www.ganeshahighschool.com/vbportals/gan … t-425.html – 13k – Cached – Similar pages

Last edited by jorkel (2007-08-20 15:25:07)

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#6 2007-08-20 16:50:10

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

When we’re raised with a particular idiom, no matter how absurd it may be, it remains unremarkable. I remember people complaining of their goats being got as well as exhortations to ‘stop playing the goat’.
For the goatless though, it may be necessary to press another word into service. I don’t know quite how far we can take this thing, but ‘gourd’ can be used to mean ‘head’ which makes at least as much sense as the original:

What really gets my gourd is all the time and money that is wasted conducting these surveys, asking questions that have only one obvious answer. ...
www.catholicexchange.com/node/58945 – 32k – Cached

+ another 16 or so…

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#7 2007-08-20 17:24:59

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

I would never in a million years have thought of looking for “gets my ghost” or “gets my gourd.” What interesting and weird finds. This is starting to look just a bit like what the Language Log people call a “snowclone.” I wonder how many other “gets my g——” variants are out there.

Jorkel’s last comment is right on: the person he quotes is thinking in terms of eggcorns, even if they don’t know the word; they DO know that more common words of a similar sound are substituted for rarer ones.

My gut feeling is that “gets my goat” probably is the original—I haven’t been able to find any early uses of “goad” in this regard, but quite a number of uses of “gets my goat” have been documented.

All of which leads to a response to TootsNYC’s comment. In my other “gets my goat” post, I gave a URL for an American Dialect Society post on this topic. (It’s here: http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bi … =1&P=22199) The writer, Douglas G. Wilson, used an electronic newspaper archive to analyze dozens of instances of “gets my goat” and related phrases from 1907-12. The older theory on this phrase – apparently first floated by H. L. Mencken – was that goats were kept in racing horses’ stalls to calm them down before a race, but people who wanted to influence the race would “get the goat” in order to make the horse more nervous. Wilson’s examples show no sign of this, but he does believe that in this expression goats were thought of as being tantamount to a person’s self-possession or confidence. I’ve reproduced the analytical parts of his post below, but the examples are pretty long, so I’ve cut them out; they’re worth looking at in the original post because it’s clear Wilson’s quick summary can tell only part of the story.

Review of the handy on-line newspapers shows that the “goat” in “get one’s goat” was not strictly confined to this fixed expression, which is probably favored by alliteration.

One’s “goat” is apparently more or less one’s composure or self-confidence.

My current speculation is that the original reference was to a (metaphoric) mascot (in the old sense of good-luck charm, the opposite of jinx or hoodoo). Many sports teams apparently had goat mascots. The story about race-horses having goat companions is apparently true. However, I do not find any single instance of “getting/stealing/losing [a horse’s] goat”; it’s always a human being’s goat. I speculate that the race-horse’s goat was a mascot kept out of superstition (whether or not the horse became attached to it), and I doubt that the specifically horse-related goat was the etymological ancestor of this metaphor … merely a cousin.

After providing a ton of examples, Wilson concludes:

To lose one’s goat was considered tantamount to failure (in athletics, etc.). “Goat” = “anger” is not apt; rather “goat” = “temper” (opposite of anger, approximately) is about right: “lose one’s goat” approximates “lose one’s temper” in some cases.—Doug Wilson

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#8 2007-08-21 02:34:09

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

I never would have thought that there would be a gray boundary between an eggcorn and a snowclone, but the more I search for eggcorns by the fill-in-the-blank method, the more I’m convinced that virtually any reasonable word (in the blank) will produce a few Google hits. I’m not sure whether this casts new light or new shadow.

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#9 2007-08-22 16:03:03

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

Except that I’ve never heard “gets my goat” used in a way that indicated a loss of self-confidence or an increase of nervousness.

It always involved making someone irritated or angry or incredulous—not necessarily making them furious, but making them exasperated and annoyed. At least, in the uses in which I heard it.

Perhaps it changed over the years, but I tend to think not.

Frankly, I don’t buy the race-horse thing. That strikes me like the “whole nine yards = enough fabric to make an entire suit” thing—somebody’s looking for an imagery.

I know that goats were kept w/ racehorses as companions (there’s mention in “Seabiscuit” of that horse rejecting a proffered goat companion), but I don’t buy the origin of the phrase.

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#10 2007-08-23 04:32:13

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

I think you’re completely right about the horse-racing thing. This is one of those lexical “urban legends” that gets passed around without any evidence. As far as I can tell, almost all the usual suspects – Michael Quinion, Word Detective, even Wikipedia – call this story into question. But weirdly, the entry for “get someone’s goat” at the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (3d ed.) repeats the tale without much in the way of skepticism:

To make someone annoyed or angry: “Gavin may seem unflappable, but I know a way to get his goat.” This expression comes from a tradition in horse racing. Thought to have a calming effect on high-strung thoroughbreds, a goat was placed in the horse’s stall on the night before the race. Unscrupulous opponents would then steal the goat in an effort to upset the horse and cause it to lose the race.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search? … e’s%20goat

It’s this kind of thing that makes me a much bigger fan of Merriam Webster products than AH stuff.

As for the origins of the phrase, Wilson wasn’t claiming that the “confidence,” etc. meaning was still around – just that it had a role in the phrase’s beginning.

I’m not sure whether he’s right or not. The problem with the evidence he gives is that he offers sentences using “goat” without any more context – so we folks at home can’t decide whether his evaluation of what “got my goat” meant in a particular newspaper article from 1907 was right or not.

The one thing that his evidence did convince me of, however, was that there were a number of strange metaphorical uses of “goat” floating around in the period 1905-20 that just aren’t in the language anymore. And some of the earliest uses of “got my goat,” etc. that he cites seem plainly odd by today’s standards. There does seem to have been a bit of “semantic flux” surrounding the phrase at the time, but I’d need to see bigger chunks of those newspaper articles before I could tell whether Wilson was on the right track or not.

Speaking of “the whole nine yards” and the American Dialect Society, I wonder whether people caught this Language Log post on that phrase from June – there’s actually been a small breakthrough in trying to solve the mystery of “the whole nine yards.” The origin is still obscure, but the lexicographers may be closing in: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language … 04623.html

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#11 2012-12-30 18:47:30

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2143

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

Update: A recent breakthrough reported on the origin of “the whole nine yards:” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/books … .html?_r=0

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#12 2012-12-31 14:53:27

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 943

Re: "gets my goad" for "gets my goat"

This excerpt from a book by Robert Forsyth in 1805 indicates that building stone was sold in units of 6 cubic yards:

The beauties of Scotland They are commonly about four feet high, three feet broad at the bottom, and eighteen inches at the top; and generally costs fourteen pence the six yards ; but all the stone are laid down by the employer, and the turf is cut by the undertaker.

Here’s evidence that bolts of cloth were standard in six-yard lengths – at least in Madagascar.

Monthly consular and trade reports, United States, 1881 (from Madagascar) I would, therefore, say to our manufacturers and exporters, should they ever conclude to try to secure a part of this trade, 1) send goods of good quality ; [...] 5) let the number of yards in a piece be six, or a multiple of six. Formerly all the prints brought here, or nearly so, were in six yard pieces, called “patnas”, but now larger pieces are the most in demand and some of the merchants tell me that at the present time they are not even particular as to pieces containing odd numbers of yards, saying that they dispose of them in some way. But I think this concession is due to the practice of the exporter in not charging for the surplus yards. The samples in this lot called handkerchiefs are not used for the purposes that name would imply ; but for making fancy petticoats or skirts for the women, a garment for which they require just six yards in length of material, which they cut into two pieces of three yards each and sew together lengthwise, and the garment is finished by sewing the two ends of this double breadth together.

Together these support the idea that “the whole six yards” might originally not have required an explanation for those immersed in a duodecimal system of weights and measures.

Last edited by burred (2012-12-31 15:23:20)

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