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wild-goose chase

[wahyld-goos]
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noun
  1. a wild or absurd search for something nonexistent or unobtainable: a wild-goose chase looking for a building long demolished.
  2. any senseless pursuit of an object or end; a hopeless enterprise: Her scheme of being a movie star is a wild-goose chase.
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Origin of wild-goose chase

First recorded in 1585–95
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

unproductiveabortiveineffectualineffectiveuselessunsuccessfulpointlessfutileployhuntresearchquestinquiryinvestigationexaminationinspectionexplorationpursuitrummageinquest

British Dictionary definitions for wild goose chase

wild-goose chase

noun
  1. an absurd or hopeless pursuit, as of something unattainable
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for wild goose chase

n.

1592, first attested in "Romeo and Juliet," where it evidently is a figurative use of an earlier (but unrecorded) literal sense in reference to a kind of follow-the-leader steeplechase.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wild goose 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.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.