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Source for the gander

Posted by Henry on January 28, 2004

In Reply to: 'take a gander' posted by FlyGuy on January 28, 2004

: : : There is an expression 'take a gander' at that. Why a male goose? What could be the start of the use of the term in that way, which is well off the wall in terms of any other use of the word 'gander'?

: : I don't know why a male was used but picture a goose stretching his long neck to look at something. This stretching of a long neck like that is called "to take a gander".
: : Sounds good, no?

: ::Sounds good, yes. It may be better than 'take a goose' since that could be misunderstood in many parts of the English speaking world.

From Take Our Word For It - an interesting site -
From Judith Baron: The phrase take a gander, meaning "take a look", sounds like Cockney rhyming slang to me, but I haven't been able to find a derivation, and I can't figure out what gander might stand for. Or does it refer to the up-and-down head movements of a goose or gander?

That is exactly what the gander in take a gander refers to: the stretching or bending of the neck as that of a gander (a male goose). Actually, there is a verb to gander which originally meant "to wander aimlessly or with a foolish air like that of a gander". It was only later that it took on the "look" meaning, and the noun gander that was formed from the verb means "a look or glance"; that's why now we take a gander. The verb dates from the mid 17th century, while the noun dates only from the early part of the 20th century.

Interestingly, the noun gander "male goose" is not thought to be etymologically related to goose at all, but instead to Lithuanian gandros "stork". This does not suggest that English borrowed a Lithuanian word, but instead that there is some common ancestor of the English and Lithuanian words.

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