what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

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1670s, figuratively using goose/gander for women and men, and literally meaning that the same sauce applies equally well to cooked goose, regardless of sex. Early forms include “as deep drinketh the goose as the gander” (1562)[1][2] and similar “As well for the coowe calfe as for the bull” (1549).[3][4] The expression appears in Dickens when a spy attempting to evade culpability insists, “For you cannot sarse the goose and not the gander.” [5]


what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

  1. If something is acceptable for one person, it is acceptable for another (often of the opposite sex).
    • [1674, Richard Head, The English Rogue, Part 3, page 4:
      […] sawce which is good for the Goose, I hope will be good for the Gander […]]
    • [1678, John Ray, Collection of English Proverbs, 2nd edition, Cambridge, page 48:
      That that's good sauce for a goose, is good for a gander.]
    • 1682, Thomas Otway, Venice Preserv’d, or, A Plot Discover’d. A Tragedy. [], London: [] Jos[eph] Hindmarsh [], →OCLC, Act V, scene [ii], page 61:
      [I]t is, as I may ſo ſay, a ſavvcy Plot: and vve all knovv, moſt Reverend Fathers, that vvhat is ſavvce for a Gooſe is ſavvce for a Gander: Therefore, I ſay, as thoſe bloud-thirſty Ganders of the conſpiracy vvould have deſtroyed us Geeſe of the Senate, let us make haſte to deſtroy them, ſo I humbly move for hanging— []
    • 1945, Herbert Walter Fairman, “An Introduction to the Study of Ptolemaic Signs and Their Values”, in Le Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, volume 43, page 80:
      What is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose and the arguments that he produces against my suggestion apply with double force to his.
  2. One who treats others in a certain way should not complain about receiving the same treatment.



Derived terms[edit]




  1. ^ John Heywood, The Proverbs, Epigrams, and Miscellanies of John Heywood, 1562, "as+deep+drinketh+the+goose+as+the+gander" p. 82
  2. ^ John Lyly, Euphues and his England, 1579/1580, “as deepe drinketh the Goose as the Gander”, note on p. 377
  3. ^ 1549, John Heywood, A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue
  4. ^ "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).
  5. ^ 1859, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (Collins, London & Glasgow) p. 420.
  6. ^ 1856, Charles Cahier, Quelque six mille proverbis et aphorismes usuels empruntés à notre âge et aux siècles derniers, page 380: gives French form as borrowing from English