way goose, wake goose?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Dec 8 16:36:35 UTC 2010

At 12/8/2010 11:16 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>"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'.

I have a very faint recollection of having encountered "way[z]goose"
in the 18th century, but can't remember where.  Jesse, did I ever
send something in?

The OED's gloss for "wayzgoose" is similar to Larry's Webster
recollection:  "a. Originally, an entertainment given by a
master-printer to his workmen 'about Bartholomew-tide' (24 August),
marking the beginning of the season of working by candle-light. In
later use, an annual festivity held in summer by the employees of a
printing establishment, consisting of a dinner and (usually) an
excursion into the country."

But the OED is also expansive on the issues of etymology:

"Etymology:  Alteration of waygoose n., under which the earlier
evidence for the word is given.

The eccentrically spelt form wayzgoose, which, although established
in recent use, has not been found, exc. in Bailey's Dictionary,
earlier than 1875, is probably a figment invented in the interest of
an etymological conjecture (see quot. 1731 at sense a). Bailey's
assertion that the word had the sense of 'stubble-goose' is
unsupported, and is very unlikely; this allegation, and the
accompanying fantastic misspelling of wase n., may have been
suggested by the idea that the obscure word waygoose could be
explained on the assumption that it had lost a z. (The Eng. Dial.
Dict. refers to Cope's Gloss. Hampshire Words for 'waze-goose, a
stubble-goose', but Cope's authority for this is a MS. word-list
which, he says, 'contained many words that had certainly no relation
to the dialect of the county'.) It seems clear that the genuine
traditional form among printers was waygoose, and that the form
wayzgoose, now prevailing, is a supposed correction following the
authority of Bailey. The statement that goose was 'the principal
dish' (or even that it was eaten at all) at the 'waygoose' dinner is
destitute of evidence. It is possible that waygoose may be a
corruption by popular etymology of some earlier word, but no
satisfactory explanation has been found either in English or in any
foreign language."


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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