1. covered or highlighted with gold or something of a golden color.
  2. having a pleasing or showy appearance that conceals something of little worth.

verb (used with object), gild·ed or gilt, gild·ing.

  1. to coat with gold, gold leaf, or a gold-colored substance.
  2. to give a bright, pleasing, or specious aspect to.
  3. Archaic. to make red, as with blood.
  1. gild the lily, to add unnecessary ornamentation, a special feature, etc., in an attempt to improve something that is already complete, satisfactory, or ideal: After that wonderful meal, serving a fancy dessert would be gilding the lily.

verb gilds, gilding, gilded or gilt (ɡɪlt) (tr)

  1. to cover with or as if with gold
  2. gild the lily
    1. to adorn unnecessarily something already beautiful
    2. to praise someone inordinately
  3. to give a falsely attractive or valuable appearance to
  4. archaic to smear with blood


  1. a variant spelling of guild (def. 2)

1560s (late Old English had gegylde); in modern use the more dignified past participle of gild (q.v.). Shakespeare’s lilies were never gilded; the quote (“King John,” iv.2) is, “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily.”


Old English gyldan “to gild, to cover with a thin layer of gold,” from Proto-Germanic *gulthianan (cf. Old Norse gylla “to gild,” Old High German ubergulden “to cover with gold”), from *gulthan “gold” (see gold). Related: Gilded; gilding. Figuratively from 1590s.

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