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Say boo to a goose

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 29, 2011 at 13:33

In Reply to: Say boo to a goose posted by Gary Martin on April 28, 2011 at 11:17:

: : 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)