A Bit of Language

While trolling through Pearson’s Magazine from July, 1910 I came across an article entitled The Prize Ring, discussing the mental confidence of boxers. From there, I learned a bit about the origin of the term “Get his goat.” Enjoy.

Freddie Welsh, the present lightweight champion of England, a vegetarian with puny hips, watery eyes and a weak mouth, who has never been knocked out, puts is advice to aspirants in three words, ‘Get his goat!’ Originally this phrase was racing slang. To keep a racehorse from going stale a trainer frequently quarters with him a goat, for the pet relieves the thoroughbred of his loneliness. But intriguers have found that by stealing a goat from a horse a day or two before a great race he can be thrown out of his condition. The loss of his favorite companion annoys the horse and he goes into the big event in a highly feminized state of nerves. So, to ‘get his goat’ is to remove his confidence.

   These days it is a little political incorrect to describe a high-strung, nervous horse as feminized, but now you have a bit of trivia that you can use at cocktail parties.


Leave a comment


  1. J. G. Burdette

     /  April 5, 2013

    How funny you should mention this. Just the other day I was wondering about the origin of the expression.

  2. Use a tinfoil hat. We’ve found it quite effective.


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