What Does Goat Rope Mean? Definition and Origins

Goat Rope Meaning

Definition: A hectic, confusing, disorganized situation, often with too many people.

A similar expression is goat rodeo.

Origin of Goat Rope

A literal goat rope is an activity at a fair where many people try to catch goats with a rope.

Obviously, this would be very chaotic and unorganized. This expression first started appearing in the 1900s.

Examples of Goat Rope

define goat ropingIn the example below, two friends are discussing a recent unusual event that took place in their city.

Ted: Did you hear about that local millionaire who was giving away free money?

Rufio: No, what happened?

Ted: Apparently he hid $100 bills in Easter eggs on Easter all around the city’s biggest park. He hid thousands of these things, and then tweeted about it.

Rufio: Are you serious? How many people showed up?

Ted: Way too many! The police had to come and make people leave. It was chaos. There were fights all over the park.

Rufio: Sounds like pandemonium!

Ted: It was a total goat rope!

goat rodeo definitionThis dialogue shows two friends talking together about an old memory they have of a concert.

Zayna: Do you remember that time we went to see our favorite band in concert?

Ben: Of course I do! How could I forget?

Zayna: I can’t believe the band invited everyone onto the stage. In retrospect, that seems like it must have been so dangerous.

Ben: Yeah. I imagine that the security team was panicking. There were so many people swarming the stage, and there was no organization whatsoever.

Zayna: Yeah, despite it being such a goat rope, that was one of the most fun nights in my life!

Ben: Mine too!

More Examples

The excerpt below is about a real goat that went out to sea with the U.S. navy.

  • Using an acronym popularized in rap music, some might call this story the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). But more likely, another Navy slang phrase for a messy situation applies: goat rope. –Washington Post

This excerpt is about non-professionals driving in the president’s motorcade.

  • “There are so many non-law-enforcement vehicles that it’s going to be a goat rope. Everyone will be responding, police officers and the Secret Service, and it will be all these people running around in a panic like the last scene of the ‘Blues Brothers’ movie, when there’s the big police chase that ends in a wreck of 50 police cars.” –New York Daily News


The phrase goat rope is a noun phrase that describes a chaotic mess with too many people.