Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A spiny European shrub (Ribes uva-crispa) having lobed leaves, greenish flowers, and edible greenish to yellow or red berries.
  • n. The fruit of this plant.
  • n. Any of several plants bearing similar fruit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fruit closely related to the currant.
  • n. Any of several other unrelated fruits, such as the Chinese gooseberry (kiwifruit) and the Indian gooseberry (amla).
  • n. An additional person who is neither necessary nor wanted in a given situation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any thorny shrub of the genus Ribes; also, the edible berries of such shrub. There are several species, of which Ribes Grossularia is the one commonly cultivated.
  • n. A silly person; a goose cap.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The berry or fruit of a plant of the genus Ribes, or the plant itself; in botany, a general term for the species of the genus Ribes which belong to the section Grossularia, as the name currant is applied to those of the section Ribesia.
  • n. A silly person; a goosecap.
  • Relating to or made of gooseberries: as, gooseberry wine.
  • n. The farkleberry, Batodendron arboreum: doubtless so called from its somewhat similar fruit. See farkleberry.
  • n. The Coromandel goosebery (which see).
  • n. One of several species of Polycodium. See squaw-huckleberry.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. currant-like berry used primarily in jams and jellies
  • n. spiny Eurasian shrub having greenish purple-tinged flowers and ovoid yellow-green or red-purple berries

Etymologies

goose (probably shortening and alteration by folk-etymology of French groseille, gooseberry; see grossularite) + berry.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From goose +‎ berry. It is possible that the first element was originally something related to the gros- of French groseille and/or the kruis- of Dutch kruisbes but has been altered by folk etymology. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "The cultivated gooseberry, which dates in Britain only from the 16th century, was once peculiar to Lancashire and did not reach its zenith until a century ago. In 1857 a giant 250 year-old bush at Mount Pottinger, Belfast, yielded two stone of small amber-coloured berries before lightning killed it in late August. Its trunk was 9 in. thick and 4 ft. high, and its total height was 12 ft., with a 16-ft spread. It grew in a corner of the garden round which a road ran, and until quite modern days that part of the road was known as Gooseberry Corner." - C.J. Robb, Co. Down, Ireland, The Countryman, Autumn, 1957, p.571

    November 2, 2009

  • Good to learn this second meaning! In Italy, we say reggere la candela (to hold the candle) just the way French do (say, not hold the candle).

    April 9, 2008

  • Naked Translations has a hint or two of why this term is used to mean a single person in the company of couples.

    April 9, 2008

  • Goodnight now Treeseed and anydelirium!

    February 17, 2008