Wild goose chase

Posted by ESC on September 22, 2002

In Reply to: Wild goose chase posted by Ed Stansell on September 22, 2002

: "a wild goose chase."
: Another widely used phrase to be added. Meaning: A fruitless search (usually one where a person has been purposely given bad directions or information)

: Origin/date:??

WILD GOOSE CHASE -- "Englishmen in the late 16th century invented a new kind of horse race called the wild-goose chase in which the lead horse could go off in any direction and the succeeding horses had to follow accurately the course of the leader at precise intervals, like wild geese following the leader in formation. At first the phrase 'wild-goose chase' figuratively meant an erratic course taken by one person and followed by another; Shakespeare used it in this sense. But later the common term's origins were forgotten and a 'wild-goose chase' came to mean 'a pursuit of anything as unlikely to be caught as a wild goose,' any foolish, fruitless, or hopeless quest." From the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).