top of page

Do geese see God?

Out for a walk with my young son a while ago and he stated boldly:

“The best time to see the sunrise is in the morning.”

Undeniable. Blindingly obvious. Post-modern humour? I wasn’t sure which, but I tried to help him out by finding some deeper meaning to attribute, rather than burst his bubble with anything other than a nod of agreement.

No such wisdom was forthcoming, but it reminded me of the time that I mischievously threw out a question, without explaining the context, to see what gleaming insight would come back:

“Do geese see God?”

This is a question that might be treated differently by a theologian, an ornithologist or someone under the influence of mind-altering substances, but a word-nerd’s answer might baffle the uninitiated. Any one of these would be a fitting answer:

Mr Owl ate my metal worm.

Rats live on no evil star.

A Toyota. Race fast, safe car, a Toyota.

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.

Yes, they are all palindromes, as indeed was the original question.

If English is not your native language, or if you are studying a foreign language, have you come across any good palindromic phrases there? Do you subscribe to the point of view that there might be deep meaning hidden somewhere in a phrase that reads the same in both directions? No, nor do I, but they are great fun to find, and incredibly rewarding to invent. Any offers?

As a post-script, the mention of geese offers a chance to share my favourite ornithological fact, being a bird-nerd as well as a word-nerd:

The word “whiffling” means flying upside down (only geese and ducks, I believe) in order to quickly lose altitude. They have to twist their necks while doing this, so that their heads stay the right way up.

A greylag goose whiffling - flying upside down but with it's head held the right way up. You didn't believe me did you! Picture courtesy of

87 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page