wild goose chase(redirected from a wild-goose chase)
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!
a worthless hunt or chase; a futile pursuit. I wasted all afternoon on a wild-goose chase. John was angry because he was sent out on a wild-goose chase.
See also: chase
wild goose chase
A futile search or pursuit, as in I think she sent us on a wild goose chase looking for their beach house. This idiom originally referred to a form of 16th-century horseracing requiring riders to follow a leader in a particular formation (presumably resembling a flock of geese in flight). Its figurative use dates from about 1600.
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.
a wild goose chasea 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.
a ˌwild ˈgoose chasea (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.
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).
wild goose chase
A hopeless search or pursuit. The phrase comes from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: Romeo: Switch and spurs, switch and spurs; or I'll cry a match. Mercutio: Nay, if thy wits run the wild-goose chase, I have done, for thou hastmore of the wild-goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five. Although chasing a wild goose seems pointless and doomed to failure, Shakespeare's reference was to horse racing, where a “wild goose chase” was a race in which horses followed a lead horse at a set distance, mimicking wild geese flying in formation.