way goose, wake goose?

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Dec 8 10:36:13 UTC 2010

"Wake goose" is more likely to have led to the misunderstanding "way goose" than the converse. Both "wake" and "goose" can mean, more or less, a feast or celebration, and, if so, a possible tautology.
The "way goose" feast of printers has often been discussed, but there is no consensus on its origin. Though I am not the first to report the spelling "wake goose" and to suggest that it may be the original, it may be worth remarking. Some recent discussions of "way goose" offer many proposals, but omit "wake goose." For example, Anatoly Liberman's blog, " A Cooked-Goose Chase, or the Murky History of Wayzgoose" (Dec. 9, 2009)[1] (though his Bibliography lists an N & Q  3.10 1866 p.85 article reprinting a 1759  poem entitled "The Wake-Goose," beginning "The season comes to light the tapers up")  and  Dorothy E. Zemach "Hunting the Wayzgoose," Verbatim 30.3 (2005) 7-10..

A History of the Oxford University Press: To the year 1780, with an appendix listing the titles of books printed there, 1690-1780 Harry Graham Carter p. 191
[1709]...'at each of the Three usual reckonings of the Year; viz. Christmas, Easter, and the Wake-goose' into a chest. The first charges on the fund were 'morts' (funeral expenses) and the relief of members' widows and orphans; subject to that, a majority of members might decide to lend money at ...[2]

... [p. 193] were paid an average day's earnings.1 In his accounts from 1693 onwards the Warehouse-Keeper entered yearly the sum of £2 'to the Workmen according to Custom on St. Barthol. Day'. This was the master's contribution to the Wake-goose ...

The Cambridge University Press, 1696-1712: a bibliographical study
        Donald Francis McKenzie - 1966 - 466 pages - Snippet view
Each workman was to contribute is. on the Saturday of every third week, and likewise at each of the three usual reckonings in the year, viz. Christmas, Easter, and 'the Wake-goose'. All workmen were obliged to subscribe after three ...[3]

A History of British Insurance
Harold Ernest Raynes - 1960 - 202 pages - Snippet view
Each member subscribed one shilling every three weeks and an additional shilling at Christmas, Easter, and Wake- goose, making £1 per annum. These sums were kept in a chest and the benefits paid therefrom. On the death of a member a sum ...[4]

The Oxford companion to English literature
-Sir Paul Harvey, Dorothy Eagle - 1969 - 961 pages - Snippet view
But it has now been discovered from old records of the Oxford University Press that the word was formerly wake-goose. [5]

An Irish-English dictionary ... - Page 228
        Edward O'Reilly, John O'Donovan - 1864 - 725 pages - Full view
... s. a feast, wake-goose, supper. ...[6]

Stephen Goranson

[1] http://blog.oup.com/2009/12/wayzgoose/
[2] http://books.google.com/books?id=dbLgAAAAMAAJ&q=christmas+easter+%22wake+goose%22&dq=christmas+easter+%22wake+goose%22&hl=en&ei=ulD_TLyiG4K8lQenh9XBCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA
[3] http://books.google.com/books?id=-L2XbLfYVmMC&q=christmas+easter+%22wake+goose%22&dq=christmas+easter+%22wake+goose%22&hl=en&ei=ulD_TLyiG4K8lQenh9XBCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAQ
[4] http://books.google.com/books?id=5NzuAAAAMAAJ&q=christmas+easter+%22wake+goose%22&dq=christmas+easter+%22wake+goose%22&hl=en&ei=ulD_TLyiG4K8lQenh9XBCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAg
[5] http://books.google.com/books?id=XRO3AAAAIAAJ&q=%22that+the+word+was+formerly+wake-goose%22&dq=%22that+the+word+was+formerly+wake-goose%22&hl=en&ei=8l7_TP6PBYWglAeW05zWCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA
[6] http://books.google.com/books?id=dX8NAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA3-PA228&dq=%22wake+goose%22&hl=en&ei=g17_TPD-C4Odlge44rH4CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22wake%20goose%22&f=false

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