Nope you won’t find a gongoozler in the pocket of The Cat in the Hat, but you’re more apt to see one staring endlessly at something unusual. There is such primitive delight in randomly discovering words like this one, gongoozlers positively gongoozle, and their profession is celebrated up and down inland waterways as gongoozling!

It is said to have been a bit of canal workers' slang, originally for a person who stood on the towpath lazily watching activity. This noun has been around since the turn of the century but gained prevalence in the 1970’s among Britain's canal travelers as one of those long lost nautical insults in the English lexicon; not only because it looks strange it’s also fun to hear roll off the tongue.

    There are lovely, gentle walks to be had around the village and along the towpath - favourite pastime is to 'Gongoozle' … at the boats as they work their way through Cropredy lock.
Nowadays it’s used to describe an inquisitive bystander watching waterway spectacles and carries a more affectionate connotation when said by boaters to indicate walkers and onlookers who regularly crowd together along the towpaths to track, sometimes critically, the progress of boats, especially as they pass through the locks.

Pronounced it was featured notably in L.T.C. Rolt 's 1944 narrative, Narrow Boat which started a revival of interest in the English waterways and the seemingly timeless countryside through which they passed.

Gongoozlers rapidly became trendy in Britain in the 1970 and are still directly associated with canal voyeurism as an expression that is especially enjoyed by those who like to roam about on narrow waterways.

No one can say for certain but it may have originated in Lincolnshire as gawn meaning to stare vacantly or curiously and gooze to stare aimlessly or gape.' It may be related to a word used in the southeastern United States, goozle for uvula, that little punching bag hanging from the top of your esophagus, which is visible when the mouth is agape. I can’t say for sure either, but I can’t help wondering if it could be related to the idiom gone goose which is American slang for a person or thing beyond hope or help.


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