Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Gooseberry.

 Goose at Michaelmas.Gooseberry Fool. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Fox Talbot says this is St. John’s berry, being ripe about St. John’s Day. [This must be John the Baptist, at the end of August, not John the Evangelist, at the beginning of May.] Hence, he says, it is called in Holland Jansbeeren. Jans’-beeren, he continues, has been corrupted into Gans-beeren, and Gans is the German for goose. This is very ingenious, but gorse (furze) offers a simpler derivation. Gorse-berry (the prickly berry) would be like the German stachel-beere (the “prickly berry”), and kraus - beere (the rough gooseberry), from krauen (to scratch). Krausbeere, Gorse-berry, Gooseberry. In Scotland it is called grosser. (See BEAR’S GARLICK.)   1
   To play gooseberry is to go with two lovers for appearance’ sake. The person “who plays propriety” is expected to hear, see, and say nothing. (See GOOSE-BERRY PICKER.)   2
   He played up old gooseberry with me. He took great liberties with my property, and greatly abused it; in fact, he made gooseberry fool of it. (See below.)   3

 Goose at Michaelmas.Gooseberry Fool. 


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