Goose, Gander

I have heard two people use “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” in casual conversation today. I have only the vaguest notion of what the saying means, something like “if it’s good for one person, it’s good for another person.” Odd.


DerekMac's picture
DerekMac on June 8, 2005 - 10:53 Permalink

The expression is usually “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”.
SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE IS SAUCE FOR THE GANDER — ” ‘Goose’ and ‘gander’ here stand for women and men generally, and accordingly the proverb declares that what is good for a woman is also good for a man. An earlier saying based on the same logic, ‘As well for the coowe as for the bull,’ appeared in John Heywood’s ‘A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue’ (1546), and the first rendering of the current saying was recorded in John Ray’s ‘A collection of English Proverbs’ (1670) as ‘That that’s good sawce for a goose, is good for a gander.’ Ray added a further explanation: ‘This is a woman’s proverb.’ The English writer Roger L’Estrange gave virtually the modern version in his translation of ‘Aesop’s Fables’ (1692), quoting it as ‘Sauce for a Goose is Sauce for a Gander’.” From “Wise Words and Wives’ Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New” by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).

oliver's picture
oliver on June 8, 2005 - 12:29 Permalink

I wonder if more than man and woman it’s alluding to husband and wife.

Nils's picture
Nils on June 9, 2005 - 01:06 Permalink

If you take a gander at someone being goosed, is that saucy?

jennifer!'s picture
jennifer! on February 22, 2006 - 04:25 Permalink

NILS — hee hee, i think YOU are saucy!

Okinawa's picture
Okinawa on July 5, 2007 - 13:44 Permalink

I was wondering this exact same thing!

Mindy's picture
Mindy on January 1, 2008 - 00:52 Permalink

Gander is a male goose, so what is good for the goose (the female) is good for the gander (male). In other words, what is good for the female is good for the male.


engomi2411's picture
engomi2411 on March 8, 2008 - 06:48 Permalink

This is an old post, but I can’t help, in this day of women’s lib, to think that it’s about time we changed our perspective to:

What’s good for the gander is good for the goose. And that might also apply to the comment by NILS. Smile.