General English


  • The fruit of a bush Ribes uva-crispa of the same family as the blackcurrant. Generally picked when immature and around 1 to 4 cm in length. They have a firm yellowish green flesh containing several embedded seeds and a hairy, occasionally smooth, green striated skin. In this state they are used for pies, tarts and preserves. dessert gooseberries are green to light brown and are eaten raw when ripe.


  • noun a small soft fruit from a small prickly bush, which is green or red in colour and is usually cooked or preserved


  • used to describe a white wine, especially one made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety, with a slightly but pleasantly acidic taste or an aroma reminiscent of gooseberries

Origin & History of “gooseberry”

Probably, when all is said and done, gooseberry is simply a compound of goose and berry. But no one has ever been able to explain satisfactorily why the gooseberry should have been named after the goose, and there has been no lack of alternative etymological suggestions for the word – notably that goose is an alteration of an old dialect word for the ‘gooseberry’, such as groser or gozell, borrowed ultimately from French groseille ‘gooseberry’. The quaint alteration goosegog dates from at least the early 19th century.

Play gooseberry ‘be an uncomfortably superfluous third person with two lovers’ also goes back to the early 19th century, and may have originated in the notion of a chaperone (ostensibly) occupying herself with picking gooseberries while the couple being chaperoned did what they were doing (gooseberry-picker was an early 19th-century term for a ‘chaperone’).