One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A device for levering or lifting thought to resemble the foot of a goat; especially a device used for drawing a crossbow, consisting of a pair of claws which hook on to the string and a levering mechanism by which the string is drawn back to the nut. In later use usually more fully "goat's foot lever". Compare "gaffle". Now chiefly historical.
2A salt-tolerant creeping vine, Ipomoea pes-caprae (family Convolvulaceae), growing on beaches and dunes along the tropical coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, having pink trumpet-shaped flowers with darker throats, and thick leaves notched at the apex. Frequently attributive as "goat's foot convolvulus", "goat's foot morning glory", etc.
3A bulbous flowering plant, Oxalis pes-caprae (family Oxalidaceae), native to South Africa, having bright yellow flowers, trifoliate leaves, and a sour taste due to its high content of oxalic acid. Now rare.
Early 16th century; earliest use found in 2nd Baron Berners (c1467–1533), soldier, diplomat, and translator. From the genitive of goat + foot.
goat's foot/ˈɡəʊts fʊt/
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