English Idiom – Gild the Lily

Meaning – To improve something unnecessarily. To further decorate something that already looks perfect. Attempt to improve something beautiful and therefore spoil it. To add unnecessary or excessive ornamentation or embellishment to something that is already beautiful or perfect. It is a warning against overdoing something that is already good.

The word gild means to cover something in a thin layer of gold, or decorate something so that it has a golden appearance.

If you gild (or paint) a lily you will spoil the look. The lily is already a beautiful flower and it needs no decoration. The lily is a popular flower that is found in many different colors and varieties. It is a symbol of purity and innocence and is often used in religious ceremonies. The lily is also a popular choice for weddings and other special occasions.

Usage:

When could you use this idiom?

  • If somebody is adding unnecessary adornments to something that looks perfect.
  • A person is trying to improve an object that is already naturally beautiful.
  • Someone is trying to make further changes to an already successful project or product.

Example:

  • You don‘t need to gild the lily by adding extra decorations to the cake it looks perfect as it is.

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Discuss:

  • Is there an idiom like this in your country?

What is an idiom?

An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally.  An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words, but has a separate meaning of its own.