a wild goose chase

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Related to a wild goose chase: What's Sauce for the Goose

wild goose chase

A prolonged or chaotic search for something that is difficult to find (often because it does not exist). I've been on a wild goose chase trying to find a bag of Dan's favorite potato chips. Those jerks sent me on a wild goose chase to find a copy of a book that hasn't been released yet!
See also: chase, goose, wild

a wild goose chase

If you describe a search for something as a wild goose chase, you mean that it was a waste of time and you found nothing, usually because the information you were given was wrong. Every time I've gone to Rome to try to find out if the story could be true, it has turned out to be a wild goose chase. I hope I haven't been sent off on another wild goose chase. Note: In medieval times, a wild goose chase was an unusual kind of horse race. It started with an ordinary horse race. The winner then rode in any direction they chose and the other riders had to follow. The race may have been called `a wild goose chase' because the movements of wild geese are often irregular and unpredictable, which makes them difficult to hunt.
See also: chase, goose, wild

a wild goose chase

a foolish and hopeless search for or pursuit of something unattainable.
This expression is first recorded in the late 16th century. It was then the term for a kind of equestrian sport in which all the competitors had to follow accurately the course of the leader at definite intervals, like a flight of wild geese. Later, the term was applied to an erratic course taken by one person or thing and followed by another.
1998 Spectator The ‘struggle to align the clock and the heavens’, then, is ultimately the story of mortal vanity, or at least a wild goose chase.
See also: chase, goose, wild

a ˌwild ˈgoose chase

a (long) search for something that you cannot find because you have been given the wrong information: He gave us the wrong directions to the station and that led us off on a wild goose chase.Peter’s story sent the police on a wild goose chase. They soon realized he’d been lying.In the past, this was a sport in which horse riders had to follow the exact course taken by the first rider, like the way that geese fly by following a leader. Later it referred to any unplanned or irregular course taken by one person and followed by another, and then came to mean something that was like trying to find a wild goose: that is, a difficult or hopeless task.
See also: chase, goose, wild

wild goose chase, a

A fruitless search or senseless pursuit. Pursuing a wild goose was already transferred to other wild chases by Shakespeare’s time. A popular follow-the-leader game was so called, and referred to by Shakespeare: “Nay if thy wits run the wild goose chase, I have done” (Romeo and Juliet, 2:4).
See also: goose, wild
References in periodicals archive ?
Eddie Hume sent us on a wild goose chase (briefly) due to the full-sleeve tats.
When Rosemary Miner takes off on a wild goose chase, she knows exactly where she's heading.
Simon Westland, filming the dig for a documentary, said: "This could be a wild goose chase or it could be amazing.
Finding the next two addresses turned out to be a wild goose chase.
But whereas the first novel dwelt on the troublesome stasis of life on the bum among the self-appointed wretched of the earth, More Bread or I'll Appear is a wild goose chase.
When we got wind of where he was staying we went off on a wild goose chase to find him.
But the tape was a fake, and it led police on a wild goose chase while Sutcliffe remained at large for two more years.
A MOTHER of five sent Gardai on a wild goose chase when she reported a phantom robbery.