The goose in popular culture

(Statutory warning: this is not about Arnab Goswami or any other Goswami.)

The goose may not be a particularly impressive-looking creature.

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But it has contributed a lot to the English language and to popular culture. You have:

Goose pimples (Americanized to goose bumps)

Gooseberries (also known as Amla in parts of India)

Goose-necked lamps:

Goose neck lamp

Phrases: “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” or “killing the goose which lays golden eggs”.

Or threats: “I’ll cook your goose”.

Works of literature: (This story was quite popular in the past)

Going down the scale, we have Gus Goose, a distant relative of Donald Duck:

Gus Goose

The cricketer Gary Gilmour was nicknamed Gus because, like this character, he constantly got injured in various mishaps.

And there was Goosey Goosey Gander. As in many old nursery rhymes, there is a historical context:

The word goose is generally used for both male and female, though the correct term is gander for a male, goose for a female and gosling for the young.

And the 19th century limerick writers did not leave the goose unscathed:

Said an old Chinese mandarin.
There’s a subject I’d like to use candour in:
The geese in Pekin
Are so steeped in sin
That they’d sooner let a man in than a gander in.

Fans of Vernon Philander would be dismayed to note that there is an alternative second line which says:

“I’ve found in the course of philanderin’ “

And while the Nazis may not have invented the goose-step, they will always be associated with it:

Which was duly lampooned in this 1940s British comedy:

Goose is also a verb:

noun: goose; plural noun: geese; plural noun: gooses
  1. 1.
    a large waterbird with a long neck, short legs, webbed feet, and a short broad bill. Generally geese are larger than ducks and have longer necks and shorter bills.
    • a female goose.
    • the flesh of a goose as food.
  2. 2.
    a foolish person.
    “‘Silly goose,’ he murmured fondly”


verb: goose; 3rd person present: gooses; past tense: goosed; past participle: goosed; gerund or present participle: goosing
  1. 1.
    poke (someone) in the bottom.
  2. 2.
    North American
    give (something) a boost; invigorate.
    “the government’s desire to goose the tired housing market”
    And the gander also has a verb in old slang:
    noun: gander; plural noun: ganders
    1. 1.
      a male goose.
    2. 2.
      a look or glance.
      take a gander at the luggage, will ya?”


    verb: gander; 3rd person present: ganders; past tense: gandered; past participle: gandered; gerund or present participle: gandering
    1. 1.
      look or glance at something.
      “Paulie gandered at shelves full of coffee paraphernalia”
      However, all of this does not explain why several major airlines put out ads like this “No Goose, No Gander” in the early 1950s:
      No goose no gander
      This is a little more complicated, but has a perfectly logical explanation. More about this later.