Word of the Day : April 4, 2008

gild the lily

phrasal verb GILD-thuh-LILL-ee


: to add unnecessary ornamentation to something beautiful in its own right

Did You Know?

You might be aware that "gild the lily" is attributed to Shakespeare, but there is a catch -- the phrase used in Shakespeare's play King John is actually "to paint the lily." The quotation reads, in part, "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily / To throw a perfume on the violet. . .. / Is wasteful and ridiculous excess." There are those who criticize "gild the lily" as a misquotation, and "paint the lily" does appear from time to time. But "gild the lily" has become firmly established, and it holds true to the spirit of the original version, even if the wording does not.


My sister has good bone structure and lovely skin, so she doesn't need to gild the lily by wearing makeup.


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!