Definitions

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

  • noun Any of several copper and zinc or tin alloys resembling gold in appearance and used to ornament furniture, moldings, architectural details, and jewelry.
  • noun An imitation of gold.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Gold-leaf prepared for gildingbronze, brass, or the like.
  • noun Hence Gilded bronze prepared for metal mountings of elegant furniture and similar decorative purposes.
  • noun Fine brass, sometimes colored and treated with lacquer to give it brilliancy: used for imitation jewelry, chandeliers, and similar fine metal-work.

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

  • noun A variety of brass made to resemble gold by the use of less zinc and more copper in its composition than ordinary brass contains. Its golden color is often heightened by means of lacquer of some sort, or by use of acids. Called also mosaic gold.
  • noun a varnish applied to metals, as brass, to give the appearance of gold.

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

  • noun Golden or gilded brass or bronze used for decorative purposes.
  • adjective Made from golden or gilded brass or bronze.
  • verb To decorate with gilded ormolu articles.

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

  • noun brass that looks like gold; used to decorate furniture

Etymologies

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

[French or moulu : or, gold (from Old French; see or) + obsolete French molu, past participle of moudre, to grind up (from Old French, from Latin molere; see melə- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French or moulu (literally: ground gold)

Examples

  • He discussed woods with him -- rosewood, mahogany, walnut, English oak, bird's-eye maple, and the manufactured effects such as ormolu, marquetry, and Boule, or buhl.

    The Financier, a novel

  • This crimson room had two doors upon the side facing the three windows: The innermost opened into a large supper-room, in which a table was spread covered with the usual refreshments of European parties, -- tea, ices, lemonade, and et ceteras, -- and the other opened into a ball-room which is a sort of miniature of the 'salle blanche' of the Winter Palace, being white and gold, and very brilliantly lighted with 'ormolu' chandeliers filled with myriads of candles.

    John Lothrop Motley, A Memoir — Complete

  • This crimson room had two doors upon the side facing the three windows: The innermost opened into a large supper-room, in which a table was spread covered with the usual refreshments of European parties, -- tea, ices, lemonade, and et ceteras, -- and the other opened into a ball-room which is a sort of miniature of the 'salle blanche' of the Winter Palace, being white and gold, and very brilliantly lighted with 'ormolu' chandeliers filled with myriads of candles.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Works

  • This crimson room had two doors upon the side facing the three windows: The innermost opened into a large supper-room, in which a table was spread covered with the usual refreshments of European parties, -- tea, ices, lemonade, and et ceteras, -- and the other opened into a ball-room which is a sort of miniature of the 'salle blanche' of the Winter Palace, being white and gold, and very brilliantly lighted with 'ormolu' chandeliers filled with myriads of candles.

    John Lothrop Motley. a memoir — Volume 1

  • This crimson room had two doors upon the side facing the three windows: The innermost opened into a large supper-room, in which a table was spread covered with the usual refreshments of European parties, -- tea, ices, lemonade, and et ceteras, -- and the other opened into a ball-room which is a sort of miniature of the 'salle blanche' of the Winter Palace, being white and gold, and very brilliantly lighted with 'ormolu' chandeliers filled with myriads of candles.

    PG Edition of Netherlands series — Complete

  • He discussed woods with him — rosewood, mahogany, walnut, English oak, bird’s-eye maple, and the manufactured effects such as ormolu, marquetry, and Boule, or buhl.

    The Financier

  • Still, he remembers one space offering a welcome caesura from the ormolu and swag: the Blue Room, which the Count used as his personal sitting area.

    Museum Quality

  • From the Grand Hall will come a striking gilt-bronze and ormolu center table from the late 18th-early 19th century attributed to one of the renowned cabinet decorators of the time, sculptor Pierre-Philippe Thomire.

    The Soul of a French Palace

  • A suite of four 19th-century 12-light candelabras are also a monumental feature from the Grand Hall, with classical women in flowing, dark ormolu robes standing on a green marble base, balancing the golden candle holders on their heads estimate: €200,000-€300,000.

    The Soul of a French Palace

  • The room was filled with hothouse flowers, twinkling electric lights, gilded candelabra, potted palms and crystal and ormolu chandeliers hung with pink roses and asparagus vines.

    The Bradley-Martin Ball | Edwardian Promenade

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • Ormolu (from French or moulu, signifying gold ground or pounded) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-karat gold to an object in bronze. The French refer to this technique as bronze doré, which is used to this day though the item may be merely painted with a gold-tone paint... The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury gilding or fire gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object. Most mercury gilders died by the age of 40 due to exposure to the harmful mercury fumes. This gilding technique is similar to that also used on silver, which produced silver-gilt objects known as vermeil.

    June 10, 2007

  • from Carlyle's "Sartor Resartus"

    January 11, 2009

  • An alloy resembling gold, an imitation, implies deception

    June 14, 2009

  • "Even personal experience of these facts was not always a protection from the chill that descended on one in the high-ceilinged white-walled Madison Avenue drawing-room, with the pale brocaded armchairs so obviously uncovered for the occasion, and the gauze still veiling the ormolu mantel ornaments and the beautiful old carved frame of Gainsborough’s 'Lady Angelica du Lac.'"

    - Edith Wharton, 'The Age of Innocence'.

    September 19, 2009

  • "The contrast was apparent even in the lighting fixtures: a 'very rich ormolu gas chandelier' and a 'splendid 6-light ormolu chandelier' were found in the parlors, while the dining room below was furnished merely with an unadorned 'gas pendant.'"

    —Susan Williams, Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 53

    April 13, 2010

  • But conversant as she was with the decorative arts of France, Auntie Mame's heart was more with the Bauhaus of Munich than with the rocaille and coquaille.

    For a time, however, she was able to fight down her progressive impulses and string along with the staff at Elsie de Wolfe's, chirping prettily over dim ormolu wall sconces and inaccurate cupid clocks.

    Patrick Dennis, Auntie Mame (New York: Broadway Books, 2001), p. 43 (orig. pub. 1955)

    June 1, 2016