Does anyone know what 'playing gooseberry' means in:

"I had a strong feeling of playing gooseberry; I certainly took little part in the conversation."
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Does anyone know what 'playing gooseberry' means in: "I had a strong feeling of playing gooseberry; I certainly took little part in the conversation."

I can't get any closer than that.

Bob Lieblich
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Does anyone know what 'playing gooseberry' means in: "I had a strong feeling of playing gooseberry; I certainly took little part in the conversation."


Doesn't it mean the fifth wheel or the third erson who makes two a crowd?  ...
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TomCatPolka asked:
Does anyone know what 'playing gooseberry' means in: "I had a strong feeling of playing gooseberry; I certainly took little part in the conversation."

I am a little surprised that this hasn't been answered immediately with utter confidence. It means to be the third person in the situation where "two's company, three's a crowd".
I am 53 years old and have spent almost all my life in the south of England: I regard the expression as quite commonplace.
Paul Buswell  ...

Doesn't it mean the fifth wheel or the third erson who makes two a crowd?

The latter. Well, here in Blighty anyway.
Edward

The reading group's reading group:
http://www.bookgroup.org.uk  ...
Does anyone know what 'playing gooseberry' means in: "I had a strong feeling of playing gooseberry; I certainly took little part in the conversation."

"In British informal use, someone who plays gooseberry is a third person who stays in the company of two people, especially lovers, who would prefer to be alone; the usage comes from gooseberry-picker , referring to an activity as a pretext for the lovers to be together." Oxford Dictionary of Phrase & Fable
I must say that I fail to understand the explanation. Let's try Brewer's version:
"To act as chaperon; to be an unwanted third when lovers are together. The origin of the phrase is obscure, but it has been suggested that it arose from the charity of the chaperon occupying herself in picking gooseberries while the lovers were more romantically occupied."

Right.
Matti  ...
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Does anyone know what 'playing gooseberry' means in: "I had a strong feeling of playing gooseberry; I certainly took little part in the conversation."

"gooseberry: an unwanted third person in the company of a couple or group of couples, /esp/ in the phrase play gooseberry " (Chambers) http://www.chambersharrap.co.uk/chambers/index.php

Adrian  ...
Does anyone know what 'playing gooseberry' means?

As others have said, it is a common expression meaning to go out with a couple of lovers, therefore being something of a spare part. Sometimes I've heard the expression "playing goosegog", meaning the same.
Peasemarch.  ...
"In British informal use, someone who plays gooseberry is a third person who stays in the company of ... referring to an activity as a pretext for the lovers to be together." Oxford Dictionary of Phrase & Fable

Ah! So that's where people that walk out together go: to the gooseberry patch.  ...
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