Posted by Gary Martin on December 17, 2007
In Reply to: Wigwam for a goose's bridle posted by R. Berg on December 16, 2007
: : Where did the phrase "a wigwam for a goose's bridle" originate?
: I don't know, but I suspect England. There's a group of nonsense phrases like that, used when adults don't want to answer children's questions. They seem to be British; at least, I've never heard them used in the U.S. "A wigwam for winding up the sun" is similar. See http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/50/messages/79.html (link below). ~rb
The 'goose's bridle' expression appears to be Australian, although it may have been taken there by English settlers. The form most often given is 'a whim-wham for a goose's bridle', but there are many variants (wing-wong, wig-wog, bridal, for a treacle-mill...).
A whim-wham is an old English expression for a frivolous item; a trinket - like a flim-flam. It probably derives from whimsy.
A work colleague of mine used to answer the question 'what are you doing?' with 'I'm doing what I'm doing'. 'I am making a whim-wham for a goose's bridle' would be an alternative to that.