A town (pop. about 1600) in Nottinghamshire, England; pronounced "goat-m".

The town's name literally means "Goats' Town" in Anglo Saxon, and was renowned for centuries as a place of fools and idiots. The stories of how this reputation was gained vary somewhat, but usually involve a visit from bad King John. The residents did not want this visit, because it meant a large outlay of money for the king's entertainment. So when the heralds of the king arrived, they found the inhabitants engaged in all sorts of bizarre acts, like trying to drown an eel. The King decided not to visit a town full of lunatics, and the people of Gotham were spared the expense of supporting his court. This idea of cleverness disguised as lunacy gave birth to an old English proverb: "More fools pass through Gotham than remain in it."

In the 16th century a book of jokes, Merie Tales of the mad men of Gotham, first set in print the stories about the imbeciles of Gotham that had been going around since the 12th century. The foolish inhabitants of Gotham were also mocked by Mother Goose, in the rhyme Three Wise Men of Gotham. It was this version of a city of idiots that Washington Irving had in mind when he wrote his series of essays mocking the fashionable citizens of New York City in 1807.

(Its notable that some of former United States President William Jefferson Clinton's ancestors are thought to have come from Gotham, England.)

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.