The excellent archivist Leslie Fields (whose work you can read about here) has reminded me of the excellent word wayzgoose, which I’ve always loved; a moment’s work showed me that 1) I have never mentioned it on LH, and 2) the OED just updated their entry last December, so without further ado, here ’tis:

wayzgoose, n.

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈweɪzɡuːs/, U.S. /ˈweɪzˌɡus/
Inflections: Plural wayzgooses, (rare) wayzgeese.
Etymology: Apparently a variant or alteration of another lexical item. Etymon: waygoose n. [s.v. waygoose: It has been suggested that a goose was the main dish served at such an event, but this cannot be substantiated, and it is unclear whether the second element is to be identified with goose n. There do not appear to be plural forms of this word modelled on geese, plural of goose n. (but compare the plural forms cited at wayzgoose n.).]
Apparently an alteration of waygoose n., after wase n., originally as an attempt to provide an etymology (by Nathan Bailey; compare quot. 1731 at main sense).
There is no secure independent evidence for the sense ‘stubble goose’ posited by Bailey.
The rare plural form wayzgeese (after geese, plural of goose n.) usually appears alongside wayzgooses in contexts showing uncertainty over the correct form.

An entertainment given by a master printer to his workmen around St Bartholomew’s Day (24 August), marking the beginning of the season of working by candlelight. In later use: an annual festivity held in summer by the members of a printing establishment, consisting of a dinner and (usually) an excursion into the country. Cf. earlier waygoose n.

1731 N. Bailey Universal Etymol. Eng. Dict. (ed. 5) Wayz, a Bundle of Straw. Wayz-goose, a Stubble-Goose, an Entertainment given to Journeymen at the beginning of Winter.
1837 Colonial Times (Hobart, Tasmania) 12 Sept. 300/2 It is customary, all over the world, for journeymen printers to give their masters a dinner, on a fixed day, which dinner is called a ‘Wayse Goose’.
1875 J. Southward Dict. Typogr. 137 The wayzgoose generally consists of a trip into the country, open air amusements, a good dinner, and speeches and toasts afterwards.
1895 Surrey Mirror 23 Aug. 2/7 The members of the typographical staffs of the Surrey Advertiser (Guildford) and the Surrey Mirror (Redhill) had their wayzgoose on Saturday last, when they journeyed to Brighton.
1956 Yale Univ. Libr. Gaz. 30 133 This wayzgoose of the Honorable Company of College Printers affords a most appropriate time..to speak about Franklin and his press.
2005 Cheshire Life Aug. 285/1 The staff of WH Evans & Sons Ltd, Printers, enjoy a wayzgoose (traditional printers’ outing) at Ristorante Sergio.

The first two cites for the earlier waygoose are:

1682 in W. R. Scott Rec. Sc. Cloth Manuf. New Mills 31 To write to the master to give the servants there way-gouse the night befor the fareiday of Haddington and bestow upon itt 15 s. sterling.
1683 J. Moxon Mech. Exercises II. 361 These Way-gooses, are always kept about Bartholomew-tide. And till the Master-Printer have given this Way-goose, the Journey-men do not use to Work by Candle Light.

As I told Leslie, I’ve never had the opportunity to take part in one, but I fervently support the institution. Long live wayzgeese!


  1. And more than just printers; in George Sturt’s The Wheelwright’s Shop (1920, but writing about the period 1820-1840, in Farnham near London):

    “My grandfather, I heard more than once, wanting to arrange his wayzgoose for Christmas, had been careful not to fix it for the same day as the wayzgoose at Mason’s, the carpenter’s, but to have it so the sawyers, who worked for both firms, could attend both feasts.” (p 55)

    A note leads to an additional comment that his aunt, remembering her childhood in the 1820’s, said that the completion of a wagon was celebrated with a waygoose of supper and songs at the local inn–and Sturt adds that he has been informed that the term is also used by printers.

  2. The Dictionary of the Scots Language has 10 possible spellings for goose, but ‘gouse’ (as in the earliest quote, from SE Scotland) isn’t one of them.

  3. There’s more in a 2009 post by Anatoly Liberman: A Cooked-Goose Chase, or the Murky History of Wayzgoose, including a false 1572 occurrence that turned out to be a shameful typo (and it would be funny if the word for the printers’ festival alluded to it, but the typo is from 1866, so it doesn’t fit the timeline). He also has some etymo-speculation: oie-goose, Waes [in Belgium] goose, “Away goes!”.

    Here’s another one: It reminds me of hoosegaw < juzgado and vamoose < vamos. So maybe waygoose < juegos?

  4. If it were an American word, juegos would be a very appealing source, but in England?

  5. Reminds me of the dubious etymology for gooseberry.

    The folk etym is it’s because the berry is so deliciously bitter, and counteracts the fattiness in the bird – traditionally eaten at Christmas . But that doesn’t fit with the berry’s growing season.

    A different possible etym is corruption of the French groseille.

  6. The OED1 was firmly on the side of goose + berry as the etymology, with Henry Bradley saying: “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 […].”

  7. I am looking at the possibility of tracing the word “:wayzgoose” back through the heritage of English in the Germanic languages, to the invention of printing by Johannes zur Gansfleisch zum Gutenberg, and the possibility that subsequent printers of the 15th and 16th centuries might have celebrated Herr Gansfleisch (possibly a variant of the German “Gänsefleisch” meaning “goose meat”) and his invention with a fest, the practice of which spread to other trades in English as a “way-goose”. As a printer and member of a group which celebrates the Wayzgoose I am very curious about the root of the word.

  8. Trond Engen says

    I’m not sure if you are facetious. But it’s Christmas.

    The common ancestor of the Germanic languages was spoken some two millennia befor the invention of the printing press. If the word came to English along with the trade of printing, it would be a loanword, not common inheritance.

    However, it goes with the territory of printing that there exists a written record. If the word really was coined by printers in the way you suggest, it ought to have left a fat trace in printed material.

  9. That is my opinion as well.

  10. marie-lucie says

    AntC: …the dubious etymology for gooseberry… (eaten with a fat goose, like cranberry with turkey) … A different possible etym is corruption of the French groseille.

    La groseille refers to two kinds of berries: most commonly, to a small red berry growing in grape-like bunches (a red counterpart to the related black currant), commonly used in France for making jelly, and as la groseille à maquereau which is none other than the English “gooseberry”. The addition of (le) maquereau ‘mackerel’ allegedly refers either to the use of a gooseberry sauce when cooking mackerel, or to the speckled aspect of both the berry and the fish.

    The TLFI gives groseille as a diminutive form of probable *grose, derived from a Germanic root attested in Middle Dutch kroesel, itself from kroes “crépu”. This French adjective normally refers to the very tightly curled aspect of the hair typical of many Africans, and therefore unexpected in the description of this berry. It seems much more likely that the now homophonous kroes morphemes have different origins.

    It occurred to me that if there is a relationshp between the English and the French words, the “goose” in “gooseberry” might have started as an old French borrowing “grose”, reinterpreted as “grouse” instead, hence grouseberry (with ou here as long [u:] originally), later switching to gooseberry as the fat goose replaced the smaller grouse in festive dishes.

    Does this sound plausible?

  11. la groseille à maquereau = krusbär in Swedish (from MLG krussbeere, seems to be lost in Platt and Standard German).

    Also encountered an obsolete Danish expression blive krus i Parykken ‘getting your wig in a curl’ for being cross — which sent me to etymonline to check if there was a connection to the cognate ME crûs, but the derivation there is different.

  12. David Marjanović says

    There is northern Standard German kraus, which refers to curly hair and similar phenomena (up to and including confused thoughts). The surnames Krause and Kruse are widespread.

  13. But not used for the berry any more, is it?

  14. Trond Engen says

    Between grose and la framboise, can we make a case for a pre-Grimm-Verner substrate?

  15. Trond Engen says

    Probably not. Fr. /gr-/ < Nl. /kr-/ is more likely to be the same development as Fr. /dr-/ < Nl. /tr-/ in drôle.

    Whatever that is.

  16. David Marjanović says

    But not used for the berry any more, is it?

    I didn’t know the word at all, but Google does know Krausbeere, no fewer than 2330 times in fact. This list of dictionary entries says it’s a regional term for goose- or cranberries.

  17. Trond Engen says

    Also Swedish Krusbär. But apparently not cultivated in Scandinavia for more than a few centuries, so the name is rather calqued through Germanic than inherited.

  18. I’m confused now. This dictionary entry glosses G kraus as E crisp — but the latter is a loan from Latin where it meant ‘curly’ and it only developed its modern meaning in English around 1600, so do the dictionary authors mean ‘curly’ or ‘crunchy’?

    (It doesn’t help my confusion that one systematic name is Ribes uva-crispa where the Latin word presumably has its original sense, but looks so enticingly like the English word. And gooseberries are crisp).

    crisp and kraus may also share a PIE root, at least. Which is of no assistance at all.

  19. This dictionary entry glosses G kraus as E crisp — but the latter is a loan from Latin where it meant ‘curly’ and it only developed its modern meaning in English around 1600, so do the dictionary authors mean ‘curly’ or ‘crunchy’?
    I don’t know what the dictionary authors meant, but the German word definitely only means “curly, frizzly”, not “crunchy”.

    crisp and kraus may also share a PIE root, at least.
    Unlikely, as Germanic /k/ and Italic /k/ normally don’t correspond.

  20. David Marjanović says

    glosses G kraus as E crisp

    That’s strange. The dictionary entry I linked to says it regionally means “rough”, though, and says “therefore gooseberry”.

  21. Unlikely, as Germanic /k/ and Italic /k/ normally don’t correspond — yes, I thought I saw kraus referred to *(s)ker-, but it doesn’t make sense. That’s where we get ring from, isn’t it? de Vries (s.v. kroes) has IE *greus to *ger- with the same meaning.

    etymonline has the ‘crispy’ sense for kraus as well, citing Klein — but Klein says fr. G. kraus, resp. MDu. croes, ‘crispy, curly’. Which doesn’t really help since the Dutch word doesn’t mean ‘crisp’ either.

  22. So it turns out that the first meaning of crisp in English was (unsurprisingly, since it was borrowed from Latin) “Of the hair: Curly.” This goes back to Bede (“Bede Eccl. Hist. v. ii, Se gunga wæs geworden hale lichoman..and hæfde crispe loccas fægre”); the last citation in the OED is from 1859 (R. F. Burton Central Afr. in Jrnl. Royal Geogr. Soc. 29 317 “The hair of these races has invariably a crisp, short, and stiff curl”). It is, of course, insane to use that as an English equivalent simply because it looks similar to the Latin word, but lexicographers are surprisingly often seduced by faux amis.

  23. “Crisp” as a description of tightly curled hair was familiar to me, although I have no idea from where.

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