E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Gape (g hard).
Looking for gapeseed. Gaping about and doing nothing. A corruption of Looking a-gapesing; gapesing is staring about with ones mouth open. A-gapesing and a-trapesing are still used in Norfolk.
Seeking a gapes nest. (Devonshire.) A gapes nest is a sight which-people stare at with wide-open mouth. The word nest was used in a much wider sense formerly than it is now. Thus we read of a nest of shelves, a nest of thieves, a cosy nest. A gapes nest is the nest or place where anything stared at is to be found. (See MARES NEST.)