Mother Goose

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Mother Goose,

name associated with nursery rhymesnursery rhymes,
verses, generally brief and usually anonymous, for children. The best-known examples are in English and date mostly from the 17th cent. A popular type of rhyme is used in "counting-out" games, e.g., "Eenie, meenie, minie, mo.
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. Most English nursery rhymes have been ascribed to Mother Goose. The origin of the name is still a matter of dispute. Some trace it to a French collection of tales by Charles Perrault (1697) that had the subtitle Contes de ma mère L'Oye [tales of mother goose]. This name has in turn been traced to Queen Goosefoot, Charlemagne's mother (see BertradaBertrada
, d. 783, Frankish queen, wife of Pepin the Short and mother of Charlemagne. She tried without success to reconcile Charlemagne and his brother Carloman. Also called Bertha of the Big Foot or Queen Goosefoot, she figures in Carolingian legend.
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), who was a patron of children. Others claim an American origin in Mother Goose's Melodies, published 1719 in Boston by Thomas Fleet, whose mother-in-law was said to be Elizabeth Vergoose. A collection of Mother Goose rhymes was published by John Newbery in London in 1765. The subject matter of the rhymes has been linked by some scholars to actual events in English political history.


See The Annotated Mother Goose, ed. by W. S. and C. Baring-Gould (1970); study by S. K. Abbey (1967).

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Mother Goose

originally a fictitious nursery rhyme spinner from Perrault, later a Bostonian authoress. [Fr. Lit.: Brewer Handbook, 732]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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