wild goose chase

wild-goose chase

[wahyld-goos]
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.

Origin:
1585–95

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
wild-goose chase
 
n
an absurd or hopeless pursuit, as of something unattainable

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

wild goose chase
1592, first attested in "Romeo and Juliet," where it evidently is a fig. use of an earlier (but unrecorded) literal sense in ref. to a kind of follow-the-leader steeplechase.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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