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). Primarily heard in US. 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

wild-goose chase

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.
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

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.
See also: chase, goose, wild
References in classic literature ?
I think, young lady, if you will allow me to say so that you are making a needless mystery of the matter, and further, that you are embarking upon what will certainly prove to be a wild-goose chase.
A MOTHER whose daughter has been missing for nearly 10 years has slammed a clairvoyant who led gardai on a wild-goose chase.
The old and costly guessing game -- taking a circuit out of service for tests, or sending technicians on a wild-goose chase for problems they might not even own -- has been replaced by the Intelligent Surveillance and accuracy of Clearview CircuitView.
Egberts-Greene, also known as Mikki Nelson, was arrested April 10 after sheriff's helicopters and deputies from three sheriff's stations went on a wild-goose chase looking for McEntire's tour bus, which they were told had broken down in the Acton area.