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paint the lily

To add embellishment to something that is already beautiful or outstanding. The phrase comes from Shakespeare's King John: "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily ... is wasteful and ridiculous excess." My wife is so gorgeous that putting her in a fancy gown would just be painting the lily. Why add a filter to your photo of the rainbow? No need to paint the lily.
See also: lily, paint


1. Pure white in color. The locals were absolutely fascinated with our lily-white skin.
2. Straight laced; totally honest. You're being naïve if you think the top business people are lily white.
3. Consisting solely or primarily of white people. He'd always lived in lily-white towns, so felt a bit out of place when he moved to a city with a huge black community.


Cowardly or fearful. I'm not surprised that Tom didn't come to the rally—he's too lily-livered to defend his beliefs in public.

gild the lily

To 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 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

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

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

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

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

knock the dew off the lily

and shake the dew off the lily
phr. [for a male] to urinate, especially first thing in the morning. (The dew is urine.) He’s up and into the bathroom, knocking the dew off the lily long before I even get my eyes open. I gotta go shake the dew off the lily before I explode.
See also: dew, knock, lily, off

shake the dew off the lily

See also: dew, lily, off, shake


mod. cowardly. That lily-livered guy is up hiding under his bed till this blows over.

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 ?
1917-19, lent by the Albertina, Vienna, and Water Lilies 1916-19, lent by Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Basel, will join three other Monet paintings - Water Lilies 1916 from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Water Lilies 1907 from G|teborgs Konstmuseum in Sweden; and Water Lilies after 1916, on loan from the National Gallery to the Tate Collection.
Lilies are easy to multiply by just digging up and dividing clumps as they age.
Treatment: Immediate treatment (within the first 18 hours after exposure) is critical for cats exposed to lilies or lily-tainted water.
Once upon a time, apart from Lilium candidum, lilies were only seen in the gardens of the wealthy.
From this point of view, water lilies belong on the very lowest branch, Barkman and his colleagues say in a paper scheduled for the PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.
The hybridization of lilies in the United States started in Sandy, Oregon, when the "father" of lily hybridization, Jan de Graaff, a native of Holland, began experimenting with lilies and their potential.
Susan Kim, owner of Santa Rosa Valley Nursery in Camarillo, grows about 1,000 potted lilies, but said the effort doesn't always pay off.
Lilies usually like full sun in mild-summer areas, filtered shade where summers are hot.
Another view is that preacher John Wesley visited the area and called the women of Golcar lilies - compared to their 'wild' counterparts in Bolster Moor and Scapegoat Hill.
Those willing to donate cut calla lilies or potted Easter lilies would receive reserved seats for the free sunrise service, which will start at 5:30 a.
Mr Crompton said: "People born in Golcar call themselves Golcar lilies.
For example lilies from Division I are hybrids of asiatic species and although they lack the perfume associated with other lilies, this is compensated by their prolific and luscious growth.
Only three plant families, none closely related to lilies, have confirmed rodent pollinators, Johnson says.