Word Origin & History
"a large waterfowl proverbially noted, I know not why, for foolishness" [Johnson], O.E. gos, from P.Gmc. *gans- "goose" (cf. O.Fris. gos, O.N. gas, O.H.G. gans, Ger. Gans "goose"), from PIE *ghans- (cf. Skt. hamsah, masc., hansi, fem., "goose swan;" Gk. khen; L. anser; Pol. ges "goose;" Lith. zasis
"goose;" O.Ir. geiss "swan"), probably imitative of its honking. Sp. ganso "goose" is from a Gmc. source. Loss of "n" sound is normal before "s." Plural form geese is an example of i-mutation
. Meaning "simpleton" is from 1547. The verbal meaning "jab in the rear" (c.1880) is possibly from resemblance of the upturned thumb to a goose's beak. To cook one's goose first attested 1845, of unknown origin; attempts to connect it to Swedish history and Gk. fables have been unconvincing. Goose egg "zero" first attested 1866 in baseball slang. Goose bumps (1933) was earlier goose flesh (c.1810) and goose skin (1785). The goose that laid the golden egg is from Aesop. Goose step (1806) originally was a military drill to teach balance; "to stand on each leg alternately and swing the other back and forth" (which, presumably, reminded someone of a goose's way of walking); in reference to "marching without bending the knees" (as in Nazi military reviews) it apparently is first recorded 1916.