Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Don't Let It Get Your Goat!

You can't pick up the sports page these days without reading about the GOAT.  Tom Brady or Michael Jordan or some other person deemed to be the Greatest Of All Time.  That usage does not square at all with my recollection of the word goat, which historically has meant: 

"person who is blamed for causing a failure or defeatesp. in a team sports competition." 

This definition comes from the Cambridge English Dictionary, which seems to be one of the last places where that use is still recognized.

Any internet search will tell you ... frantically but emphatically... the term means greatest of all time,  and it has always meant GREATEST OF ALL TIME.  It is  almost as though there has been a concerted effort to wipe the original offending word (which by the way, is only a short step away from the widely used scapegoat) from the language.  Are the publicity flacks who were responsible for throwing the term all over Tom Brady suddenly afraid that the THE GOAT will read a dictionary?  Or have the sports writers awakened from a bad dream in which they actually had editors who demanded to know why they were calling Brady on his game?  

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