Definitions

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

  • noun A person, especially a soldier, who avoids assigned duties or work; a shirker.
  • intransitive verb To shirk one's assigned duties or responsibilities.
  • intransitive verb To cheat; swindle.

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

  • noun slang an idle worthless person.

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

  • noun A gold brick, especially one that is fraudulent or nonexistent; also used figuratively.
  • noun US slang, dated A shirker or malingerer
  • noun US slang, dated A swindler
  • verb US slang, dated To shirk or malinger
  • verb US slang, dated To swindle

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

  • noun a soldier who performs his duties without proper care or effort
  • verb avoid (one's assigned duties)
  • noun anything that is supposed to be valuable but turns out to be worthless
  • noun an idle worthless person
  • verb deprive of by deceit
  • noun a brick-shaped block that looks like gold but is not

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

gold +‎ brick, originally (1850s) an actual gold ingot or “gold brick/goldbrick”, later a swindle that consisted of selling a putative goldbrick, which was only coated in gold. The swindle is attested from 1879, the sense “to swindle” is attested 1902, and the sense “to shirk” is attested 1914, popularized as World War I armed forces slang. In early 1900s, used to refer to an unattractive young woman – not pretty, nor able to talk or dance (attested 1903), thence to refer to incompetent enlisted troops at the start of World War I, reinforced by the rank insignia of second lieutenants, which was a gold rectangle.

Examples

  • Such activities might have included producing vituperative TV ads calling a decorated-war-hero senator a goldbrick, or sponsoring hysterical Web sites accusing the president's father of being King Faisal's fifth wife.

    Incumbent-Protection Acts

  • Such activities might have included producing vituperative TV ads calling a decorated-war-hero senator a goldbrick, or sponsoring hysterical Web sites accusing the president's father of being King Faisal's fifth wife.

    Incumbent-Protection Acts

  • Such activities might have included producing vituperative TV ads calling a decorated-war-hero senator a goldbrick, or sponsoring hysterical Web sites accusing the president's father of being King Faisal's fifth wife.

    Incumbent-Protection Acts

  • I was getting goldbrick looks from the men working at their desks, so I went back to my cubicle.

    White Jazz

  • Real work started to seem like a life sentence, so he dealt with it by becoming a goldbrick.

    Over the Edge

  • Real work started to seem like a life sentence, so he dealt with it by becoming a goldbrick.

    Over the Edge

  • Real work started to seem like a life sentence, so he dealt with it by becoming a goldbrick.

    Over the Edge

  • I treasure that ball like a goldbrick, till one day when I was tossin it aroun in the yard, a big ole dog come up an grap it outta the air an chewed it up.

    Forrest Gump

  • True enough, assignments do not all have the same level of work requirement, and one is sometimes handed a wide open opportunity to goldbrick.

    The Armed Forces Officer Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-2

  • I do not feel hard toward goldbrick men and "blue sky" venders.

    The University of Hard Knocks

Comments

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  • "Many workers are fed up with work. There are high and rising rates of absenteeism, turnover, employee theft and sabotage, wildcat strikes, and overall goldbricking on the job. There may be some movement toward a conscious and not just visceral rejection of work."

    - Bob Black, The Abolition of Work, 1985.

    October 24, 2011