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Related to lily: peony

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

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

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 ?
Billed as ``An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin,'' the 100-minute performance was an opportunity for Tomlin to revisit several of her best- known characters, try out a few new routines, answer audience questions and generally drink in the adoration of a generous audience.
And local firefighter Mark Bassett said that Lily had outperformed the other relief agencies to the extent that some of them should be embarrassed.
Lily and her twin brother Freddie were born on May 11, 2001, and everything was fine for the first two years.
Kidd realistically depicts the mixed swirl emotions experienced by the adolescent Lily as she contemplates her mother's death, and her personal memories of her mother.
We bought a water lily plant ($20 at nurseries that sell water plants, or buy a silk water lily for $6), scanned a lily pad onto a computer disk, and took the image to a shop that makes outdoor banners.
We were most excited when we found that the sea lily embryos developed into auricularia-type larvae," says Amemiya.
It's Lily who stops her, risking losing Rosanne's faith in her.
Everyone associated me with Buffy, and that wasn't good," Lily says.
Zookeeper Lily had two donor cards and her organs have been donated.
Now, after the closing of the museum, she began stirring up thoughts of Lily.
Peach and Lily Founder Alicia Yoon scheduled to Appear on FIRST EVER QVC "Asian-Inspired Beauty Innovations" Broadcast
This lily figures in Christian art too, in many Renaissance paintings of the Virgin Mary and is known as the Madonna lily.
This lily figures in Christian art, too, in many Renaissance paintings of the Virgin Mary and is known as the Madonna lily.
ANYONE who has seen her as Downton Abbey firecracker Lady Rose MacClare would struggle to see why Lily James auditioned as an ugly sister in upcoming film Cinderella.