from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To cover with or as if with a thin layer of gold.
  • transitive verb To give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance to.
  • transitive verb Archaic To smear with blood.
  • idiom (gild the lily) To adorn unnecessarily something already beautiful.
  • idiom (gild the lily) To make superfluous additions to what is already complete.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To overlay with gold, either in leaf or powder or in amalgam with quicksilver; overspread with a thin covering of gold.
  • To give the appearance of gold to, whether by means of actual gold-leaf or in some other way, as by lacquering polished brass, bronzing with gold-colored bronze-powder, or the like.
  • In old chemistry, to impregnate or saturate with gold.
  • Figuratively To give a golden appearance or color to; illuminate; brighten; render bright; make glowing.
  • To give a fair and agreeable external appearance to; recommend to favor and reception by superficial decoration: as, to gild flattery or falsehood.
  • To make drunk: in allusion to the effect of liquor in causing the face to glow.
  • noun In phytogeography, one of several groups of plants which depend for their existence on other plants.
  • To sell.
  • To electroplate by depositing a layer of gold from an electric bath.
  • To eat the alloy out of (a low-grade gold) by means of an acid, leaving the fine gold on the surface.
  • noun An association or corporation established for the promotion of common objects, or mutual aid and protection in common pursuits, and supported (originally) by the contributions of its members.
  • noun A gildhall.
  • noun See geld.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To overlay with a thin covering of gold; to cover with a golden color; to cause to look like gold.
  • transitive verb To make attractive; to adorn; to brighten.
  • transitive verb To give a fair but deceptive outward appearance to; to embellish.
  • transitive verb obsolete To make red with drinking.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To cover with a thin layer of gold; to cover with gold leaf.
  • verb transitive To adorn.
  • verb transitive To make appear drunk.
  • noun Alternative form of guild.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a formal association of people with similar interests
  • verb decorate with, or as if with, gold leaf or liquid gold


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English gilden, from Old English gyldan; see ghel- in Indo-European roots.]


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  • Now, if I must conform my smiles to lightning, then my smiles must gild a storm too: to _gild_ with _smiles_, is a new invention of gilding.

    Lives of the Poets, Volume 1 Samuel Johnson 1746

  • II. ii.56 (444,8) gild the faces of the grooms withal,/For it must seem their guilt] Could Shakespeare possibly mean to play upon the similitude of _gild_ and _guilt_.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies Samuel Johnson 1746

  • G has only the sound of g in give, get: gil ‘star’, in Gildor, Gilraen, Osgiliath, begins as in English gild.

    The Lord of the Rings Tolkien, J. R. R. 1954

  • For the protection and regulation of this trade the organization known as the gild merchant had grown up in each town.

    An Introduction to the Industrial and Social History of England Edward Potts Cheyney 1904

  • According to what I read in a couple of dictionaries, "gild" means to decorate the outside of something, usually unnecessarily.

    Untwisted Vortex 2009

  • Before I tell you what I'm referring to when I say "my gilded cage in the Philippines", I need to tell you exactly what "gild" and the phrases "gilded cage" and "gild the lily" mean.

    Untwisted Vortex 2009

  • The world "gild" is what the word "guild" is based on, which is usually an association formed for the protection or support of its members.

    Untwisted Vortex 2009

  • Mr. Toulmin Smith tells us: "The link which has been broken and mislaid was the" English Guild "(or" gild, "as seems the more correct spelling).

    Memoir and Letters of Francis W. Newman Giberne Sieveking

  • Twentieth-century totalitarian art did not just gild the cage; it helped to build it.

    Masters of the Dark Arts Andrew Stuttaford 2011

  • The moment was caught in the leader's debate on Monday night when Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny did not gild the lilly and told an audience of close to one million watching that they would all have to share the pain.

    Niall O'Dowd: Suddenly in Irish Election, an Historic Outcome on the Cards Niall O'Dowd 2011


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  • A quartz-clear dawn

    Inch by bright inch

    Gilds all our Avenue

    from "Southern Sunrise," by Sylvia Plath

    April 14, 2008