Definitions

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)

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

Examples

    Sorry, no example sentences found.

Comments

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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