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gilded cage

gilded cage in Culture

gilded cage definition


To be like “a bird in a gilded cage” is to live in luxury but without freedom: “Because the movie star could not go out without being recognized and pursued, she stayed in her penthouse, living like a bird in a gilded cage.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Examples from the Web for gilded cage
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She guessed, that he saw nothing in the gilded cage, but her image in his mind.

  • It had, too, an air of loss, and felt like a gilded cage from which the bird had flown.

    The Man Between Amelia E. Barr
  • For the first time for nearly a month he remembered the bird in its gilded cage.

    In Story-land

    Elizabeth Harrison
  • "I guess it's back to your gilded cage for you, baby," he said.

    Master of the Moondog Stanley Mullen
  • Captivity was telling upon him, and he was pining as an eagle pines when caught and shut up by man even in a gilded cage.

    The Lord of Dynevor Evelyn Everett-Green
  • Also, he wished he dared ask her not to sing that song about "She's only a bird in a gilded cage."

    The Lure of the Dim Trails by (AKA B. M. Sinclair) B. M. Bower
  • The green parrot in its gilded cage cried "Accolade, accolade," in a shrill tone.

    Jose: Our Little Portuguese Cousin

    Edith A. (Edith Augusta) Sawyer
  • If you refuse me, you will remain a prisoner in a gilded cage, but no harm shall come to you.'

    The Gay Adventure Richard Bird
Idioms and Phrases with gilded cage

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.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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