Idiom #14 The Goose that laid the Golden Eggs

This week’s idiom: “To kill the goose which lays the golden eggs.”


This saying comes from the Aesop’s fable The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs.

A man and his wife had the good fortune to possess a goose which laid a golden egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth. (From Wikipedia)


The commonly used meaning of this expression relates to the act either and individual or an organisation that abuses a source of income or profit through excessive greed to the point where that income is destroyed.


By not looking after the needs of his customers, the shopkeeper killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.


The photo below shows a Cape Barren Goose, an Australian bird. It does not lay golden eggs. Some entrepreneurs tried to harvest these birds from the wild for use in their restaurants here in South Australia. They were soon stopped because the total world population is only something like eight to ten thousand. Such slaughter would inevitably have resulted in “killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.”

Cape Barren Goose

Cape Barren Goose


2 Responses to “Idiom #14 The Goose that laid the Golden Eggs”

  1. Yep, We are pleased to have Cape Barren Geese here in Victoria at Churchill Island (off Phillip Island).
    If the island had not been bought by Trust for Nature and given to the Government, it would now be covered in holiday homes with no room for Cape Barren Geese (unless someone felt like a BBQ)

    Visit us at and the blog at http://frreerangereggs.blogspot,com

  2. Trevor says:

    They are certainly a lovely and interesting bird.