'Goose' vs 'Gander': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on September 20, 2023

Are you wondering about the difference between 'goose' vs. 'gander?' I can help!

Here is the short answer: 

  • 'Goose' is a noun that means any of a variety of large waterfowl that have a reticulated tarsi, long neck, and feathered lore, and are between swans and ducks in size. 
  • 'Gander' is a noun that means a male goose.

That is just a brief overview, though. Each word has different meanings. So, keep reading to learn how to use these terms correctly.

What is the Difference Between 'Goose' vs. 'Gander?'

'Goose' and 'gander' are both noun terms for geese. However, when someone says 'goose,' they could be referring to a male or female 'goose.' But 'gander' specifically refers to a male 'goose.'

There are several other meanings for each word, too. In verb form, 'goose' means to poke someone in the butt or increase the intensity or speed of spurring. Gander' means to take a look at something or look around.

People sometimes say, 'Do you want to take a 'gander?' They are asking if you want to look at something.

Definition of 'Goose': What Does 'Goose' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'goose' is a noun that means:

  • A variety of waterfowl belonging to the Anatidae family that has a reticulated tarsi, long neck, and feathered lore and is between the size of a duck and a swan

It can also mean:

  • A female instead of a male goose
  • A poke in the buttocks
  • The gooseneck smoothing iron a tailor uses
  • A simpleton or person lacking common sense

'Goose' can also be a verb that means:

  • To poke someone in the butt
  • To spur faster, harder, or with more intensity

Synonyms and Similar Terms to 'Goose'

  • Dodo
  • Numbskull
  • Half-wit
  • Dingbat
  • Nincompoop
  • Idiot
  • Fool
  • Moron
  • Lunatic
  • Simpleton
  • Booby
  • Ninny
  • Jackass
  • Loser
  • Simp
  • Dipstick
  • Doofus
  • Dingdong

Definition of 'Gander': What Does 'Gander' Mean?

'Gander' is a noun that means:

  • A male goose

It can also mean:

  • A simpleton or person lacking common sense
  • A look at something

Synonyms and Similar Terms to 'Gander'

  • Peek
  • Look
  • Browse
  • View
  • Glimpse
  • Stare
  • Eye
  • Ogle
  • Regard
  • Sight
  • Glare
  • Squint
  • Leer
  • Spy
  • Doofus
  • Dodo
  • Ninny
  • Nincompoop
  • Dummy
  • Dunce
  • Donkey
  • Jackass
  • Scatterbrain
  • Chump
  • Schlub
  • Schlup
  • Schlump
  • Schlemiel
  • Crackpot
  • Shlemiel
  • Weirdo
  • Screwball

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Goose' vs. 'Gander'

Now, let's look at the pronunciation of 'goose' vs. 'gander.' Learning how to pronounce words like these is critical if you plan to use them in conversation, but it can also help you remember the meaning and spelling.

So, here is a pronunciation guide you can refer to for 'goose' and 'gander.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'goose':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'gander':


When and How to Use 'Goose' vs. 'Gander'

You've learned the difference between these terms, but here are some tips that will help you determine when and how to use each.

  • Use 'goose' to describe a large waterfowl in the Anatidae family that is between a duck and a swan, regardless of the gender.

For example, you could say:

We are incubating a goose egg. 

  • Use 'gander' for a male goose.

So, I might say:

We used to have a gander, but we had to get rid of him because he would chase us around the yard, trying to bite us. 

  • Use 'geese' as the plural of 'goose' when you are differentiating between more than two male and female geese.

For example, you might say:

We have two ganders and three geese. 

  • Use 'gander' to tell someone to take a look at something.

So, you could say:

You have to take a gander at this place. It is beautiful!

  • Use 'goose' when you are saying that someone poked someone else in the butt.

As an example, you can say:

Do not goose me!! It is rude and inappropriate. 

  • You can use 'goose' or 'gander' to call someone simple, stupid, or silly.

For example, you might have heard someone say:

You are such a silly goose. You make a joke out of everything.

Sample Sentences Using 'Goose' vs. 'Gander'

Finally, here are some sample sentences using 'goose' vs. 'gander.' Read them to help you remember the meanings of these terms and to see them used in different contexts.


  • When I was a child, we bought goose eggs from the feed store and incubated them until they hatched.
  • Having a goose in your yard is a good deterrent for snakes and several other common pests.
  • Have you ever heard the story about the goose that laid the golden egg?
  • If you are wondering what color geese can be, a goose can be white, brown, gray, black, or a combination of these colors.


  • A gander can be a nice pet, but you have to show it who's boss.
  • Ganders are naturally protective, but they can also be aggressive at times.
  • Don't be a gander. Pay attention to what you are doing.
  • That island looks very interesting. Let's take a gander at it.


  • For larger geese, it is good to have around five geese for every gander.
  • If you raise smaller geese, you can have as many as three geese per gander.
  • Most people prefer to raise a goose than a gander because geese are usually less aggressive than their male counterparts.
  • However, if you have a flock of geese, a gander can help to protect them.
  • Even if you only have one goose, she will likely be happier with a mate. Plus, if you get a gander, you can get goose eggs.

Review: 'Goose' vs. 'Gander'

Wow! We went over a lot of information. So, here is a recap of the difference between 'goose' vs. 'gander':

  • A 'goose' is a large waterfowl between the size of a duck and a swan that belongs to the Anatidae family and has a feathered lore, long neck, and reticulated tarsi. 
  • A 'gander' is a male goose. 
  • 'Goose' and 'gander' can also be used as an insult to call someone stupid. 
  • 'Goose' can also be a verb that means to poke someone in the butt. 
  • 'Gander' is also a noun that means look. 

Words like these can stump English language learners and experienced writers. Successful writers know the importance of ensuring that you are using words correctly.

If you need to verify the meaning of a commonly misused or mistaken word, you can always visit the confusing words section here. You will find hundreds of guides like this that explain the difference between terms and how to correctly use them.

So, check them out if you have been wondering about other terms' meanings.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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