What Is a Goose Egg? – Idiom, Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

In American English, goose egg means zero, especially in sports. It can also mean a large bump on the head. But how did a bird’s egg become synonymous with nothing and giant lumps? That’s a very good question; the answer is more straightforward than you might think. So, hang tight as I explain the true meaning of goose egg and where the heck it came from.

What Does the Idiom Goose Egg Mean?

What Is a Goose Egg – Idiom Meaning Origin

We use the idiom goose egg to signify the number zero or just nothing, usually in the context of sports scores. Picture it: the home team is up by five, and the visiting team? Well, they’re sitting on a big ol’ zero, aka goose egg.

But I know this term also describes the giant lump that forms after a head injury. We use it up here in Canada all the time. When my kids fall down and get a bonk to the head, a small bump usually forms, and we say, “Whoa! You got a goose egg!”

Origin and Etymology of a Goose Egg

Goose Egg Ngram
Goose egg usage trend.

So, why the egg from a goose and not some other bird? This idiom actually comes from the visual similarity between the number zero and a big, round goose egg. I suppose we could have used any other type of egg, as they all have similar shapes. But here we are! The term goose egg was first used as an idiom in the late 19th century in baseball terminology, where it described a scoreless inning or game.

Goose Egg Synonyms

If goose egg feels a little too bird-brained for you, feel free to use these perfectly acceptable alternatives that hold the same meaning:

  • Zero
  • Zip
  • Nada
  • Nil
  • Nothing burger
  • Zilch
  • Nothing
  • Null

Goose Egg Examples in a Sentence

What Is a Goose Egg – Idiom Meaning Origin 1

  • My son’s soccer team suffered a killer defeat, finishing the game with a big ol’ goose egg.
  • I tried to call Danny to see if he wanted to come with us, but all I got was goose egg—he didn’t even answer the phone.
  • The car dealership’s marketing efforts were a bust, ending the month with a goose egg in sales.
  • Katie took a baseball to the head while playing in the backyard, and now she has a big goose egg for picture day.
  • I worked promoting my new book all month, but sales have been a big, fat goose egg.
  • Despite her efforts to win the lottery, she’s come up with a goose egg so far.
  • I’ve been fishing all day and have caught goose egg—not even a nibble.
  • I found a goose egg in the park; it must be their nesting season! (literal use)
  • “In terms of progress,” he said with a sigh. “I’d say we’re sitting on a big goose egg.”

Hatching the Meaning of Goose Egg

I know it sounds silly, but it works. So, if you ever hear someone mention a goose egg, just know they’re probably not chatting about a trip to the farm. If you liked my take on this idiom, you should check out my other guides! No goose eggs, I promise.