"loose as a goose"

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sat Jan 19 16:20:50 UTC 2002

    A colleague recently passed along the suggestion below about
"loose as a goose." A check of _Historical Dictionary of American
Slang_ shows the meaning of the expression to be "extremely loose (in
any sense)", and the first attestation comes in 1930: Botkin,
_Folk-Say_, 106: "There, she's loose as a goose." But nothing is said
about the origin of the expression.

    So the question arises: In what way is a goose loose? Right below
my signoff is the suggestion I received.

--Gerald Cohen

>    In the New York Times Crossword no. 1203 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch
>1-14-02), "loose as a goose" is the answer to the clue, "completely
>relaxed".  When I was a boy in the 1930's, my father used the
>phrase,"loose as a goose", in a different way.  He meant, "having
>loose bowels".
>     I raised geese for several years while I was growing up.  From
>my observations of them I believe that "loose as a goose" was first
>used the way that my father did.  When geese walk about they
>generally move in a slow, stately manner.  They don't dart about
>chasing insects like chickens, ducks, or turkeys do, and when they
>are resting they do not appear any more relaxed than other poultry.
>On the other hand, they tend to have much looser stools than other
>domestic fowls.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list