The phrase the goose that lays the golden eggs has its roots in a story that was told over 2500 years ago. We will examine the meaning of the idiom goose that lays the golden eggs, where it came from, how it is used and some examples of that use in sentences.
The goose that lays the golden eggs, sometimes rendered as the goose that laid the golden egg, refers to someone or something that is a valuable source of money, power or other advantages. Often, the term is rendered as don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, as a warning not to interfere with or question a valuable resource. The goose that lays the golden eggs is an idiom, which is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. The goose that lays the golden eggs is a reference to a tale told in an Aesop fable. Aesop was a slave and a storyteller who lived in ancient Greece. He is famous for creating tales that illustrate timeless truths. These short stories remind us of simple lessons that that everyone should know about life. For instance, in the story The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, a farmer comes into possession of a goose that literally lays one golden egg, everyday. Greed overcomes the farmer, and he becomes convinced that if he splits open the goose he will come upon an enormous sum of gold that he may have all at once, rather than waiting to receive a smaller amount of gold everyday in the form of golden eggs. He slaughters the goose and finds nothing inside except the usual entrails common to all geese. The moral of the story is: Those who have plenty want more and so lose all they have. Aesop fables are an effective way to impart wisdom, which is why they are sometimes considered stories for kids. Storytelling is still considered a way to handle difficult subjects in a less confrontational manner. Aesop is famous for many different fables that are familiar to the general public. For instance, almost everyone is familiar with the story of The Tortoise and the Hare, in which a tortoise beats a hare in a race. Many have quoted the accompanying moral of the story: Slow and steady wins the race. Other stories include The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Shepherd Boy Who Cried Wolf, also known as The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Lion and the Mouse, The Belling of the Cat, the Fox and the Crow, and the Fox and the Grapes, a story from which we get the term sour grapes. Most stories told by Aesop are depicted with animals, though the story Androcles and the Lion features a human being. Aesop’s fables differ from fairy tales told by the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen in that the moral of the story is included after the narrative, in a pithy sentence or two. An Aesop fable may be considered a parable.
“Part of the point of this is protecting the goose that lays the golden egg,” Dexter Muller, owner and principal of Pinnacle Planning Advisors, told the EDGE board. (The Memphis Daily News)
“My fear is that under federalism, business and industry maybe seen as the goose that lays the golden egg and will be exploited by the state,” he opined. (The Manila Bulletin)
“If Chattanooga goes that route, we will have killed the goose that laid the golden egg.” (The Chattanooga Times Free Press)
“Then, with National Planning, basically, that killed the goose that laid the golden egg. (The Worcester Telegram)
Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered: