(Note to the dyslexic: be sure NOT to confuse this with “Google”.)

Horse and goggle --> Horse 'n' goggle --> Horsengoggle

There is a Wikipedia entry for this hand game: a kind of rock-paper-scissors, or drawing straws for a group to pick a single 'winner'.

My question is, within the context of this game, where did the name come from?

My best guesses:

  • A jockey on a horse who wears goggles running around a track like the circle of people?
  • The goggles that a horse wears, like blinders?
  • People goggling (gaping) at a horse race?
  • Horsing around and goggling the results?
  • Somehow related to the dice, poker, and basketball games called “horse”?
  • ?

The game may have started in Germany, or from an American whose family came from Germany, so maybe “goggle” has some alternate meaning lost in translation?

  • I'm familiar with the word hornswoggle, which means to defraud/cheat someone by means of deceit and figurative slight-of-hand. – Hot Licks Dec 14 '15 at 0:25
  • The quotation from Jim Frank in the Wikipedia piece suggests a German origin. And there is a village named Gagel roughly halfway between Berlin and Hamburg. Die Gage is a fee or salary, of which Gagel could be a diminutive. But I cannot come up with a German word that could even be corrupted into Horsen. – Brian Donovan Dec 14 '15 at 1:06
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    I'd guess that's describing the consecutive actions in the game. First you horse which somehow means to throw your chosen fingers into the circle and then you "goggle" (look at) the total. But I've got nothing to support that. – Jim Dec 14 '15 at 5:02
  • Perhaps,it's got something to do with people goggling at horses to place their bets before a race? I'm guessing here. – BiscuitBoy Dec 16 '15 at 14:13
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    Very few information on the net, nothing about the origin. I couldn't find anything in German sources also. Probably, someone just made up a nonce word and people adopted it. – ermanen Dec 17 '15 at 23:05

The term horsen is an archaic term meaning “horses”

From Middle English horsen, alternative plural of hors, equivalent to horse +‎ -en ‎(plural suffix). Wiktionary

The term gog (noun) is an obsolete term, which means haste; ardent desire to go, and M&W define it as stir, excitement, eagerness.

The suffix -le:

From Middle English -el, from Old English -el, -ol, -ul ‎(agent suffix), from Proto-Germanic * -ilaz (agent suffix). Cognate with West Frisian -el, Dutch -el, Low German -el, German -el.
‘A suffix forming agent nouns from verbs’:

Intuitive Guess: horsengoggle could mean: “horses who can't wait to begin/start/go”

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