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wild-goose chase

[wahyld-goos] /ˈwaɪldˈgus/
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
1585-95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wild goose chase
Contemporary Examples
  • People might well have argued that it was a waste of money to send Christopher Columbus on a wild goose chase.

Historical Examples
  • But, if you'll pardon my inquisitiveness, I'd like to ask why you are making this wild goose chase half around the world?

    Graustark George Barr McCutcheon
  • "It's a wild goose chase we're on," muttered his companion after a while.

    Flamsted quarries Mary E. Waller
  • He said there was no use of our going on a wild goose chase.

    Roy Blakeley's Motor Caravan Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • They may be worth a good deal before we get back from this wild goose chase.

    Down the Slope James Otis
  • Of course it might be but a wild goose chase after all—yet he could not let his impression go unheeded.

    The Man of the Desert Grace Livingston Hill
  • You are a fine one to send us off on a wild goose chase like that!

  • I trust you are not expecting the little girls and me to go with you on your wild goose chase into New Mexico.

  • Were of the opinion it is all a wild goose chase so were staying here.

  • It may be a wild goose chase, but it is best to be on the safe side.

    Truxton King George Barr McCutcheon
British Dictionary definitions for wild goose chase

wild-goose chase

an absurd or hopeless pursuit, as of something unattainable
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
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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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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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.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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