from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To embellish or improve something unnecessarily.
  • v. To add superfluous attributes to something.

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

  • v. make unnecessary additions to what is already complete
  • v. adorn unnecessarily (something that is already beautiful)


A common misquotation of a line from William Shakespeare's 1595 play King John, iv 2: (Wiktionary)


Sorry, no example sentences found.


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  • A misquote from Shakespeare's "King John." The actual quote:

    "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
    To throw a perfume on the violet,
    To smooth the ice, or add another hue
    Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
    To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
    Is wasteful and ridiculous excess"
    King John. Act iv. Sc. 2.
    Here's a good discussion of usage (including an amusing William Safire anecdote) from The Boston Globe.

    October 8, 2007

  • I love this phrase. It useful for describing attempts to prettify something that is perfect as it is.

    June 17, 2007