get one’s goat


  1. any of numerous agile, hollow-horned ruminants of the genus Capra, of the family Bovidae, closely related to the sheep, found native in rocky and mountainous regions of the Old World, and widely distributed in domesticated varieties.
  2. any of various related animals, as the Rocky Mountain goat.
  3. (initial capital letter) Astronomy, Astrology. the constellation or sign Capricorn.
  4. a scapegoat or victim.
  5. a licentious or lecherous man; lecher.
  1. get one’s goat, Informal. to anger, annoy, or frustrate a person: His arrogance gets my goat.


  1. any sure-footed agile bovid mammal of the genus Capra, naturally inhabiting rough stony ground in Europe, Asia, and N Africa, typically having a brown-grey colouring and a beard. Domesticated varieties (C. hircus) are reared for milk, meat, and woolRelated adjectives: caprine, hircine
  2. short for Rocky Mountain goat
  3. informal a lecherous man
  4. a bad or inferior member of any group (esp in the phrase separate the sheep from the goats)
  5. short for scapegoat
  6. act the goat, act the giddy goat, play the goat or play the giddy goat to fool around
  7. get someone’s goat slang to cause annoyance to someone


  1. the Goat the constellation Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac

Old English gat “she-goat,” from Proto-Germanic *gaitaz (cf. Old Saxon get, Old Norse geit, Danish gjed, Middle Dutch gheet, Dutch geit, Old High German geiz, German Geiß, Gothic gaits “goat”), from PIE *ghaidos “young goat,” also “play” (cf. Latin hædus “kid”).

The word for “male goat” in Old English was bucca (see buck (n.)) until late 1300s shift to he-goat, she-goat (Nanny goat is 18c., billy goat 19c.). Meaning “licentious man” is attested from 1670s. To get (someone’s) goat is from 1910, perhaps with notion of “to steal a goat mascot from a racehorse,” or from French prendre sa chèvre “take one’s source of milk.”

see get someone’s goat; separate the sheep from the goats.

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