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gold·​brick ˈgōl(d)-ˌbrik How to pronounce goldbrick (audio)
: a worthless brick that appears to be of gold
: something that appears to be valuable but is actually worthless
: a person who shirks assigned work


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goldbricked; goldbricking; goldbricks

intransitive verb

: to shirk duty or responsibility

Did you know?

The gold brick swindle is an old one but it crops up constantly, states an 1881 National Police Gazette article referring to the con artist's practice of passing off bricks made of base metal as gold. By the time World War I was under way, the word goldbrick was associated with another sort of trickery. The sense of the word meaning "shirker" originated in the slang of the United States Army, where it referred to a soldier who feigned illness or injury in order to get out of work or service. That sense has since expanded in usage to refer to any person who avoids or tries to get out of his or her assignment.

Examples of goldbrick in a Sentence

Noun the goldbricks among the colonists were warned: no work, no food

Word History

First Known Use


1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1893, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of goldbrick was in 1865


Dictionary Entries Near goldbrick

Cite this Entry

“Goldbrick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

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