way goose, wake goose?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 8 16:16:22 UTC 2010

"Wayzgoose" was one of my favorite words when I stumbled upon it in
my well-thumbed Webster 3, in my pre-OED days.  The gloss, as I
recall (I don't have a copy on me), was 'a printers' annual holiday
or entertainment'.  It ranked right up there for me with "twat"
(Webster 2;  'Some part of a nun's garb.  _Erron. Browning_),
although the latter is memorable for other reasons.  And then we have
the historic "dord" (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dord) and the
much recently discussed eponym "ucalegon" ('neighbor whose house is
on fire'--gratia Ben Zimmer and cf.
I know, some of these are erroneous and others just fun...


At 5:36 AM -0500 12/8/10, Stephen Goranson wrote:
>"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.. [...]

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