Citations:wouldn't say boo to a goose

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    • 1739, Joe Miller, Joe Miller's jests or, The wits vade-mecum (p. 13):
      My Lord Craven, in King James the First's Reign, was very desirous to see Ben Johnson, which being told to Ben, he went to my Lord's House, but being in very tatter'd Condition, as Poets Sometimes are, the Porter refus'd him Admittance, with some saucy Language, which the other did not fail to return: My Lord happening to come out while they were wrangling, asked the Occasion of it: Ben, who stood in need of no-body to speak for him, said, he understood his Lordship desired to see him. You, Friend, said my Lord, who are you? Ben Johnson, rely'd the other: No, no, quoth my Lord, you cannot be Ben Johnson who wrote the Silent Woman, you look as if you could not say Bo to a Goose: Bo, cry'd Ben, very well, said my Lord, who was better pleas'd at the Joke, than offended at the Affront, I am convinced, by your Wit, you are Ben Johnson.
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Wikisource, page 541:
      'That feller! why, I didn't think he could say Bo to a goose'—but I know he could, couldn't he Mamma?"
    • 1965, Dylan Thomas, Rebecca's Daughters:
      "You wouldn't say 'Bo' to a goose!" "Of course I wouldn't. What an absurd thing to say to a goose."