- a wild or absurd search for something nonexistent or unobtainable: a wild-goose chase looking for a building long demolished.
- any senseless pursuit of an object or end; a hopeless enterprise: Her scheme of being a movie star is a wild-goose chase.
Origin of wild-goose chase
- an absurd or hopeless pursuit, as of something unattainable
Word Origin and History for wild goose chase
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.
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.