gild the lily


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gild the lily

Fig. to add ornament or decoration to something that is pleasing in its original state; to attempt to improve something that is already fine the way it is. (Often refers to flattery or exaggeration.) Your house has lovely brickwork. Don't paint it. That would be gilding the lily. Oh, Sally. You're beautiful the way you are. You don't need makeup. You would be gilding the lily.
See also: gild, lily

gild the lily

to spoil something by trying to improve or decorate it when it is already perfect
Usage notes: To gild something is to cover it with a thin layer of gold. A lily is a beautiful white flower. To gild a lily would not be necessary.
Should I add a scarf to this jacket or would it be gilding the lily?
See also: gild, lily

gild the lily

Add unnecessary adornment or supposed improvement. For example, Offering three different desserts after that elaborate meal would be gilding the lily. This expression is a condensation of Shakespeare's metaphor in King John (4:2): "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily ... is wasteful and ridiculous excess." [c. 1800]
See also: gild, lily

gild the lily

1. To adorn unnecessarily something already beautiful.
2. To make superfluous additions to what is already complete.
See also: gild, lily

gild the lily

Engage in an unnecessary and usually wasteful activity. Like carrying coals to Newcastle, to gild a lily would be a waste of time as the flower already possesses more than sufficient beauty. The phrase comes from a misquotation of lines from Shakespeare's King John: Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp, To guard a title that was rich before, To gild refined gold, to paint the lily . . . Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
See also: gild, lily
References in periodicals archive ?
Lou Reed, Boy George and Rufus Wainwright all gild the lily, but the show most definitely belongs to Antony.
If they had, either Kanu or Giovanni van Bronckhorst would have tucked their myriad chances away instead of trying to gild the lily in displays of ridiculous showmanship.
And whether you're trying to get a few quid knocked off a new appliance, taking part in musical, art of literature interests, or trying to chat up someone glamorous, little is beyond you - providing you don't over gild the lily.
Tom Chaplin's on his best choirboy at Eventide mode, while Tim Rice-Oxley and co gild the lily in suitably decorous fashion.
The metal tweaking and up-rating of materials for the interior, coupled with neater, classier touches to fascia and cabin furniture, work very well, but it is the addition of a newer, spunkier diesel engine, a 2-litre, which will gild the lily for Renault, expanding range appeal and thereby boosting sales in this fiercely-contested sector.
If it was possible to gild the lily then Audi has done it.
As Henry tried to gild the lily, intent on scoring beautifully rather than merely bundling the ball into the back of the yet, Liverpool stuck doggedly to their task.
No amount of jinking runs could shake Hamann off and he was given a short, sharp lecture by Redknapp when he attempted to gild the lily one time too many.
But it's depressing that they need to gild the lily with so many kitsch touches
There was only one attempt to gild the lily -a version of Jerusalem, which would have its composer, Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, spinning in his grave.