Got Your Goat

Lately, I’ve been noticing that some of the expressions I use are totally unfamiliar to the people I’m speaking with.  Often, this seems to be a function of the age of the person on the other side of the conversation.  (Another viewpoint might be that the problem is, instead,  a function of the age on my side of the table–but let’s not get into that.)  This leads me to believe that there are a number of expressions that may qualify as endangered species, some of which are in danger of becoming lost forever.  In fact, according to the EPA (Expression Protection Agency), somewhere  between 1000 and 1200 expressions become extinct each year.  Seemingly,  it’s not just bald eagles and spotted owls that need our protection.

For example, the expression “got your goat”  (meaning: irritated you) appears to be one of those I don’t seem to hear much anymore and could easily fall by the wayside in the next several years.   Which in fact, after looking into it, may not be that great of a loss.  As with the etymology of too many expressions, the explanation of its origin is very indefinite and vague.  If you have the time (someone here at the blog factory does) to look into these kinds of things, you’ll find there’s often an assortment of possible explanations about the genesis of many expressions…nothing absolutely definitive.  And sometimes, as is the case with this one, there’s no explanation whatsoever; it just happened that someone smart (and published) created the term and used it as a way of indicating someone’s anger, an acolyte liked the way it sounded and repeated it and it took on a life of its own.  This I find really upsetting because for years I’ve been trying to coin some phrases that actually do make sense and I can’t get to first base with getting people to use them. (Read: https://ironicman.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/to-a-man-with-a-hammer/).

Of course,there’s a reason I’ve chosen to write about this particular expression.  A few weeks ago, while I was in the country, I found a flyer in my mailbox.  Apparently, one of my neighbors had misplaced his goat and was trying to find it.  I checked the barn–nothing there but mice and the Miata.  So I was of no help.   When I returned to the city and was back at work, I told Luap about the lost goat.  He was almost crestfallen when I told him I hadn’t found the goat.  When I asked why he was so upset, he explained that he thought it would have been so cool to call the goat’s owner and announce… “got your goat”!    And who knows, maybe that could be the best way to re-introduce the expression into the wilderness of our language.

Just to be clear....only ONE goat is missing

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