What Do We Mean By The Word " Gillygoosey"??

Philippines
March 23, 2012 2:27am CST
Last night, as I was reading a book of short stories by the legendary Sean O'Faolain entitled "Teresa", I encountered this very strange word and since it's new to my ears, I hurriedly went on for my dictionary to find its meaning but unluckily there's no such word, instead I turned on to the internet but still couldn't find its meaning. I'm really very interested to know and curious as to its etymology. Dear fellas, Please share if you have any bit of idea about such word. Thanks! Have a nice day!
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1 response
@owlwings (39259)
• Cambridge, England
23 Mar 12
The word is used in the story by an old - and very Irish - nun. She is talking about how the novice should be thinking of her trip to Lisieux (which she consistently mispronounces as "Leesoo"). The novice is thinking of her sisters in Dublin, who would at that moment be having tea and leading their uneventful, ordinary lives in the convent. The old nun calls them "gillygooseys" which, as you say, is not a word in any dictionary. She clearly means that they are silly (simple) as geese and it is one of those idiosyncratic and colourful words which one occasionally comes across which are probably made up by a particular person and only used by them. I don't know that there is any proper 'etymology'. Sean O'Faolin has probably heard it used by someone and found it endearing, so introduced it in his story. I suspect that it may be a conflation of the epithets 'silly goose' and 'giddy goose' (meaning roughly the same thing). The old nun clearly has a somewhat endearing characteristic of mispronouncing things (or insisting on her own pronounciation) and such people often have 'made up' words in their vocabulary. An equivalent word (which has a long and illustrious history - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flibbertigibbet ) is "flibberty-jibbet" (purposely misspelled), which means very much the same as the old nun's "Gillygoosey".
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• Philippines
23 Mar 12
I've been thinking of the word "silly" and thanks for reaffirming it. I just realized then that the author likes to use very eccentric words though it's made from 1930s era. I loved the story but was still confused at the near end of the story because it suddenly turned away from the very story and then bang! the novice suddenly got a husband contrary to what she had asserted to try to be a Carmelite. and then that's it, THE END. Thank you for imparting such great idea of yours. Have a nice day!
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@owlwings (39259)
• Cambridge, England
23 Mar 12
In another passage (and possibly the one you were referring to) the old nun, Patrick, uses the word again and emphasises it with a number of other epithets which helps to clarify what the word means. O'Faolin's "message" is clearly that life holds many surprises for us and that a person's "calling" often turns out to be false (whether the person recognises it, as in this story, or not!)
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