Gild the lily

DEFINITION

A phrase meaning to add unnecessary ornamentation to something already beautiful."Gild the lily" is attributed to Shakespeare, but there is a catch ? the phrase used in Shakespeare's play King John is actually "to paint the lily."The quotation, in part: "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily / To throw a perfume on the violet. . . . / Is wasteful and ridiculous excess." Shakespeare's play King John, Act IV, scene ii, lines 11-12, 16. Rather than speaking of "gilding gold" and "painting the lily," people seized upon the expression as "gild the lily," and the phrase has become firmly established. Of course, there are those who criticize "gild the lily" as a misquotation, but the essence of the expression holds true to the original version, even if the wording does not. Also see kitsch, ostentatious, and pretentious.

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