Posted by David FG on May 02, 2011 at 07:14
In Reply to: Say boo to a goose posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 29, 2011 at 13:33:
: : : We have a discussion raging about the correct phrase. My version (American) ...say boo to a goose...
: : : Suggested local (English) version ... say boo to a ghost...
: : : I see the logic in the UK version, but that's just not how we say it. Where does this come from?
: : 'Say boo to a goose' is an English phrase which the OED records from the 17th century onward. The 'say boo to a ghost' version is just a misstating (either deliberate or accidental) of the original.
: I think it's an eggcorn. Most British people these days have never seen a live goose and have no notion of whether they are scary or not. So the old phrase conveys no meaning to them, and someone has converted it to "ghost", which does. (VSD)
I am not sure whether I am amused or depressed by the suggestion that more British people are familiar with a ghost than a goose.