Waddle: a tilted form of walking, caused by walking against an obstacle, such as water or heavy grass, or by pushing into battle. Jousting, or tilting, is a specific form of waddling. This proud word, as old as walking itself, is now applied to geese, who walk through air as if through water, tilting their butts from side to side as they go. The action is related to paddling, which is work done with a small spade and, by extension, by the feet of geese in water. They literally dig their way through it. By removing the diminutive, we are left with “wad” and “pad”. One “pads” or digs one’s way into a space by “wadding” it or compressing it in front of oneself (or compressing ones legs by stronger bodily action) until the obstacle gives way. This “digging” is another military word, denoting the delving or graving of a ditch with a small spade and its fitting out with poles or pales for defence, which are stuck into the ground one by one, just like a goose’s feet as it stomps along in its waddle. It is, yes, an instance of the tail wagging the dog.

A whole lot of waddling going on. Goose Tracks on Okanagan Lake.

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