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be (like) a bird in a gilded cage

To live a life of wealth and luxury but to be without true freedom, happiness, or contentment. She married her husband because of his fortune, and now she is a bird in a gilded cage, living her lonely life inside their empty mansion with a man she does not love. John forsook his friends and family in the pursuit of his riches, but with no friends or loved ones, he is now like a bird in a gilded cage.
See also: bird, cage, gild

gild the lily

To further adorn something that is already beautiful. You look radiant, as always—wearing such an extravagant gown is just gilding the lily.
See also: gild, lily

gild the pill

To make something unpleasant seem appealing. I knew that my daughter was not going to be happy to go the doctor, so I gilded the pill by reminding her about all the toys that are in the office.
See also: gild, pill

gilded cage

A life of wealth and luxury but without true freedom, happiness, or contentment. She married her husband because of his fortune, but her lonely life inside their mansion with a man she did not love quickly became a gilded cage.
See also: cage, gild
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

gilded cage

The encumbrances or limitations that often accompany material wealth, as in She had furs, jewelry, whatever money could buy, but was trapped in a gilded cage. This metaphoric expression indicating that riches cannot buy happiness was popularized (and possibly coined) in a song, "A Bird in a Gilded Cage" (1990; lyrics by Arthur J. Lamb, music by Harry von Tilzer), about a young girl marrying for wealth instead of love and paying for luxury with a life of regret.
See also: cage, gild

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

gild the lily

If someone gilds the lily, they try to improve something which is already very good, and so what they are doing is unnecessary. There can be a temptation to gild the lily in such documents, making exaggerated claims about what the school can offer to students. Top the cake with ice cream or whipped cream, if you're keen on gilding the lily. Note: This expression may be based on lines in Shakespeare's `King John' (1595): `To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.' (Act 4, Scene 2)
See also: gild, lily
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

gild the lily

try to improve what is already beautiful or excellent.
This phrase adapts lines from Shakespeare's King John: ‘To gild refined gold, to paint the lily…Is wasteful and ridiculous excess’.
See also: gild, lily
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

gild the ˈlily

try to improve something which is already perfect, and so spoil it: The dress is perfect. Don’t add anything to it at all. It would just be gilding the lily.This comes from Shakespeare’s play King John. Gild means ‘to cover something with a thin layer of gold’. A lily is a very beautiful flower.
See also: gild, lily
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

gild the lily

1. To adorn unnecessarily something already beautiful.
2. To make superfluous additions to what is already complete.
See also: gild, lily
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

gild the lily, to

To add excessive ornament; to pile excess on excess. This term is a condensation of Shakespeare’s statement in King John (4.2), “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily . . . is wasteful and ridiculous excess.” Earlier (sixteenth-century) versions of this idea cited whitening ivory with ink (Erasmus, Adagia) and painting fine marble (George Pettie, Petite Pallace). Byron quoted Shakespeare correctly (“But Shakespeare also says, ’tis very silly to gild refined gold, or paint the lily”), in Don Juan (1818), but sometime during the succeeding years it became the cliché we now know.
See also: gild
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
Van Gilder Insurance Corporation's participation in the global entity, Assurex also provides expanded opportunity for the company and its clients that are growing internationally.
And the fourth generation, Andy and Michael Van Gilder, have set their sights on achieving $1 billion in annual sales.
When the Gilders' book is read in conjunction with two other recently published volumes on Kepler--Kitty Ferguson's Tycho & Kepler and James Connor's Kepler's Witch--it is difficult not to feel sorry for Johannes Kepler.
Mrs Gilder's teaching colleague Linda Davies and her son Leyton escaped without serious injury.
Moore's Law and Gilder's Law taken together show that general-purpose processors cannot handle future demands for TCP/IP packet processing.
The win gave Gilder consecutive victories for the second time this year.
In fact, Gilder's chief examples of misguided regulations involve good-faith and wholly deliberate--though not yet highly successful--attempts by the FCC to open local telephone monopolies to competition and to prevent cable systems from gaining a stranglehold over the Internet of the future.
Gilder, far more than any careful and responsible social scientists, spoke to the interlaced economic, personal, and moral anxieties that fuelled conservatism's triumph in the era of Ronald Reagan.
That's as far as the similarities go, though, because the books, Telecosm by George Gilder and What Will Be by Michael Dertouzos, are as different as a business plan for selling land on the moon and a kindly professor's diary of musings.
Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman have always had a passion for American history.
Like the other pieces on the program (even the less interesting ones), Brother Brother was danced (by Andrew Gilder and Ebrahim Medell in the cast that I saw) with passion--perhaps the essential ingredient if South African audiences are to be persuaded that dance is both important and meaningful.
George Gilder delivered the keynote address on "The Telecosmic Library." He is senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, contributing editor and founder of Forbes ASAP, and author of Wealth and Poverty, Microcosm, and Life After Television.
We should also work with organizations such as the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which are supporting teacher training initiatives.
Norton & Co, 126 pp.), author George Gilder argues persuasively that television as we know has had it, and that the future lies in fiber optics and the home computer which will take on all the functions that television performs today.
Born in New Jersey, Gilder headed an important literary circle in the final decades of the 19th century--first in Newark, later in New York City.