Purpose – The paper is an exercise in “metaphoric defamiliarisation”. The metaphor of the search for a conceptual framework as “quest” is unpacked and an alternative, based on Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, is proposed in its place. Design/methodology/approach – Many points of correspondence between Carroll’s unlikely expedition and the work of standard setting bodies are noted and developed. The possibility that a conceptual framework might turn out to be a “Boojum” is examined. Findings – Noting that timing precludes the possibility that The Hunting of the Snark is an allegory of accounting standard setting, a possible social explanation drawing on Cornford’s Microcosmographia Academica is proposed. Originality/value – Examines the use of the quest metaphor and what it tells us about standard setters’ approaches. An alternative metaphor is proposed as being more appropriate and, by contrasting the two, the content of the first is thrown into sharper relief.