play gooseberry

play gooseberry

To spend time with two people who are in a romantic relationship and cause an awkward tension as a result. As John and Betty started cuddling up in the cinema, I wished I had just gone home instead of playing gooseberry.
See also: gooseberry, play

play gooseberry

BRITISH, INFORMAL
If you play gooseberry, you are in the company of two people who are having a romantic relationship and who want to be alone together. I left early — I didn't want to play gooseberry with you and Bev. Note: The origin of this expression is not known, although it may refer to the third person picking gooseberries to pass the time while the other two are busy being romantic.
See also: gooseberry, play

play gooseberry

be a third person who stays in the company of two people, especially lovers, who would prefer to be on their own.
Gooseberry is short for the earlier gooseberry-picker , referring to an activity as a pretext for lovers to be together.
See also: gooseberry, play

play ˈgooseberry

(British English) be a third person with two people who have a romantic relationship and want to be alone together: Dave and Michelle invited me to go out with them but I don’t want to play gooseberry all evening.
See also: gooseberry, play
References in classic literature ?
Come along, and you'll be able to sympathize with all poor souls who have to play gooseberry often.
FOOD p15 the saying 'to play gooseberry' is thought to go back to the 1800s when chaperones would escort lovers - then pick gooseberries to give the lovers time alone together.
In the opening episode, the couple meet on what is shaping up to be a very bad day for Leo, who has just lost his job and is forced to play gooseberry on a night out with his brother, James.
In the opening episode, the couple meet on what is shaping up to be a very bad day for Leo (Harry Hepple), who has just lost his job and is forced to play gooseberry on a night out with his brother, James (Jonny Dixon).
Leeds are just there to play gooseberry while the favourites are reaquainted with their old flame.
William and Kate laughed and joked throughout the game while Prince Harry was left to play gooseberry as his own girlfriend Chelsy Davy was unable to attend.
Robert's movie pals Zac Efron, Guy Pearce and Michelle Rodriguez were left to play gooseberry in LA's swanky W Hotel at Thursday's GIGGLES: Katy afterparty for The Rover.
So you don't miss out, here are last week's crossword solutions: Last week's solution ACROSS: 1 Supersonic; 6 Campus; 10 Peg; 11 Cattle; 12 Vandal; 14 Hidalgo; 15 Toolmaker; 17 Sent him packing; 20 Ear; 21 Treatment; 23 Err; 24 Play gooseberry; 28 Chaffinch; 29 Spinach; 30 Bigwig; 32 Bamboo; 34 Dor; 35 Engage; 36 Greedy guts.
Bethan Marie Hughes had not wanted to "play gooseberry" to a friend who had left the party to meet aman, so she decided to wait in her car which was parked nearby.
Big Pete (potato), 'Little' Don (rhubarb) and Medium Bob (also rhubarb) are clearly having a good time with the Newbury covers, and I wouldn't want to play gooseberry. But surely it's time to blow a giant raspberry to the whole business.
And the boys are happy to play gooseberry at the world's biggest and most dazzling diamond exhibition currently showing at the Natural History Museum in London.
I didn't want to leave them at the cinema alone, nor did I want to play gooseberry. No precedents to go by - when I was 11 the only person I would have dreamed of dating was Donny Osmond, and he just wasn't asking.
We loved the meal ( but there was enough left on our plates that could have filled a third party if anyone had wanted to play gooseberry for the night!