General English


  • noun a large heavy bird, between a duck and a swan in size. Possibly this was one of the first wild birds to be domesticated. Geese are raised especially for table birds at Christmas. In France, goose livers are used to make pâté de foie gras.


  • A large migratory game bird of various species from the Anser genus. Pink footed and greylag are the common varieties. The domestic goose was bred from the greylag. Wild geese are cooked as game. Domestic geese are generally eaten when less than a year old. The points to look out for are a yellow hairless beak, yellow supple feet (red indicates an older bird) and pale yellow fat. Usually roasted. It is one of the few domesticated birds which cannot be reared intensively.


  • noun a web-footed water bird, larger than a duck
  • noun meat from this bird

Origin & History of “goose”

Goose has relatives throughout the Indo-European languages: Latin ānser, Greek khḗn, Sanskrit hansás, Russian gus’, Czech husa, German and Dutch gans, and Swedish gåas (not to mention Irish Gaelic gēis ‘swan’) all go back to a prehistoric Indo-European *ghans-, which probably originated as an imitation of the honking of geese. (The only major exceptions to this cosy family are French ole and Italian and Spanish oca, which come from Latin avicula ‘little bird’.) A Germanic extension of the base was *ganit- or *ganot-, which produced not only English gander ‘male goose’ but also gannet. Gosling (15th c.) was borrowed from the Old Norse diminutive gáeslingr, literally ‘little goose’; and goshawk (OE) is a compound of goose and hawk.

The verb goose ‘jab between the buttocks’, first recorded in the 1870s, may come from a supposed resemblance between the upturned thumb with which such jabbing may be done and the neck of a goose.