Definitions

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

  • n. Chiefly British A wishbone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The furcula or wishbone.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The forked bone of a fowl's breast; -- called also wishbone. See furculum.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The furcula or wishbone of a fowl's breast: so called from the sport of breaking it between two persons of whom each pulls at one of the two ends, to determine which is to be married first, or which is to have a wish gratified that has been mentally formed for the occasion, the winner being the one who gets the longer fragment.

Etymologies

From merry + thought, traditionally explained with reference to the pleasant thoughts imagined when the bone is ritually broken. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This resemblance was carefully pointed out by Professor Huxley in his "Hunterian Course" for 1867, when attention was called to the existence in Dimorphodon macronyx of even that small process which in birds gives attachment to the upper end of the merrythought.

    On the Genesis of Species

  • The wings, breast, and merrythought are esteemed the prime parts of a fowl and are usually served to the ladies of the company to whom legs except as a matter of paramount necessity should not be given.

    The Book of Household Management

  • The prospect of this indulgence, the Candidate, the pictures, all combined to elevate the spirits of the children in no ordinary degree; so much so indeed that Petrea had the boldness, whilst they were regaling on roast chicken, to propose to the Candidate that the picture of the girl and the rose-bush should be put up for a prize on the breaking of a merrythought between them; promising, that if she had the good fortune to win it, she would give as a recompense a picture of her own composition, which should represent some scene in a temple.

    The Home

  • When Mrs Bosenna said that about a merrythought I almost split myself.

    Hocken and Hunken

  • After legs are taken off, enter knife into the top of breast, and cut under merrythought or wishbone so as to loosen it, lifting it with the fork.

    The Story of Crisco

  • "Me washee," came a cheerful shout; "me washee from the neck all the way down to the merrythought, and now washee down from the merrythought to --"

    The Unbearable Bassington

  • The merrythought will come off in the same way as that of a fowl.

    The Book of Household Management

  • The collar — or neck-bones are the next to consider: these lie on each side of the merrythought, close under the upper part of the wings; and, in order to free these from the fowl, they must also be raised by the knife at their broad end, and turned from the body towards the breastbone, until the shorter piece of the bone, as shown in the cut, breaks off.

    The Book of Household Management

  • The merrythought and neck-bones may now easily be cut away, the back-and side-bones taken out without being divided, and the breastbone separated carefully from the flesh (which, as the work progresses, must be turned back from the bones upon the fowl, until it is completely inside out).

    The Book of Household Management

  • Till a little practice has been gained, it will perhaps be bettor to bone these joints before proceeding further; but after they are once detached from it, the whole of the body may easily be separated from the flesh and taken out entire: only the neck-bones and merrythought will then remain to be removed.

    The Book of Household Management

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