A kid'll eat ivy, too.

Learn to trust your gut, the therapist told me. She was not talking about goats, or even lonely goatherds high on a hill. Why are those goatherds high on the hill?  Have they been trippy tromping over a troll's bridge?

Brown bag goat by 6-year-old.
Today's mental meandering and munching took place, as usual, during my nap room duty. I sit in a darkened room a couple hours every school day trying to get nine or a dozen little kids to sleepyland. Should I succeed, within minutes it is time to begin getting them awake again.

Sometimes I ponder deep and meaningful secrets of life. Other days I do the Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper by the light of a tiny clip-on book lamp.

Today I ruminated on goats:
  1. What does it mean if someone "gets your goat"?
  2. Why can't people "get your goat if they don't know where it's tied"?
  3. How can a problem be "really eating your lunch"?
  4. Why was Gregory such a terrible eater?*
  5. Who wrote the song about "Mairzy Doats and Doezy Doats"?
  6. When should we spend a half hour looking for lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green?**
goat (n.) Look up goat at Dictionary.com
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").
There are some silly stories about goats and racehorses and prison slang at Sing Sing to explain an origin for "gets your goat". My gut tells me that the expression "that really gets my goat" has more to do with stomachs than silks.  Angers and anxieties show up in our innards, disrupting our digestion as well as our peace of mind.
Get your goat? Make you annoyed or angry.

  • "Wouldn't that get your goat? We'd been transferring the same water all night from the tub to the bowl and back again."
  • The expression took a few years to cross the Atlantic. The first non-US citation isn't found until 1924 in the English author John Galsworthy's story White Monkey, and even there it is clearly seen as a recent innovation:--"That had got the chairman's goat! - Got his goat? What expressions they used nowadays!"
  • The following year, The Times printed a piece in memory of the then recently deceased Friedrich Baedeker. This included a side-swipe at American tourists and uses the phrase as a typical piece of Americana--"... goggled Americans whispering aloud, 'Wa-al Sadie, these durned three star things get my goat'!"

Grandpa Goat and Lost Sheep

Big Billy

Little Billy Goat Gruff

It's gonna eat my lunch 

Used when faced with a difficult challenge. Came from the common instance when a school yard bully would take lunch money from a smaller kid and use it to by his own lunch.
I have to write a 50 page report on the state of our global environment this weekend. It's gonna eat my lunch!

gut (n.) Look up gut at Dictionary.com

Old English guttas (plural) "bowels, entrails," related to geotan "to pour," from PIE *gheu- "pour" (see found (v.2)). Related to Middle Dutch gote, Dutch goot, German Gosse "gutter, drain," Middle English gote"channel, stream." Meaning "abdomen, belly" is from c.1400. Meaning "easy college course" is student slang from 1916, probably from obsolete slang sense of "feast" (the connecting notion is "something that one can eat up"). Sense of "inside contents of anything" (usually plural) is from 1570s. To hate (someone's) guts is first attested 1918. The notion of the intestines as a seat of emotions is ancient (cf. bowel) and probably explains expressions such as gut reaction (1963), gut feeling (by 1970), and cf. gutsGut check attested by 1976.

Gregory the Terrible Eater, by Mitchell Sharmat
Q:  Do goats really eat tin cans?
A:  Only if forced to watch the "Lawrence Welk Show".

*Gregory just wanted scrambled eggs, orange juice, and two pieces of waxed paper for breakfast.

**Only on lazy weekend mornings while in your pajamas.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

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