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Re: Found under a gooseberry bush

Posted by Gary Martin on December 17, 2010 at 10:10

In Reply to: Re: Found under a gooseberry bush posted by James Briggs on December 16, 2010 at 13:46:

: : : : What is the origin of phrase "found under a gooseberry bush"?

: : : "Gooseberry bush" was a 19th-century slang term for pubic hair. Go figure, as they say! (VSD)

: : Gooseberry is a verb meaning to steal clothes from a clothesline. Also, picking a gooseberry bush. A gooseberry bush is a clothesline ripe for the picking. “Dictionary of American Regional English,” Volume II, D-H, by Frederic G. Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall (1991, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England). Page 936.

: Here's what my 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue says about "gooseberry":

: GOOSEBERRY. He played up old gooseberry among them ; said of a person who, by force or threats, suddenly puts an end to a riot or disturbance.
: GOOSRBERRY-EYED. One with dull grey eyes, like boiled gooseberries.
: GOOSEBERRY WIG. A large frizzled wig : perhaps from a supposed likeness to a gooseberry bush.

Seeing the above I became curious about the etymology of 'gooseberry'. The OED gives this masterclass in the use of the double negative:

The grounds on which plants and fruits have received names associating them with animals are so commonly inexplicable, that the want of appropriateness in the meaning affords no sufficient ground for assuming that the word is an etymologizing corruption.

That's preceded by 'gooseberry' = 'goose' + 'berry' (probably) which, I'm guessing, means much the same thing.