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[awr-muh-loo] /ˈɔr məˌlu/
Also called mosaic gold. an alloy of copper and zinc used to imitate gold.
Also called bronze doré, gilt bronze. gilded metal, especially cast brass or bronze gilded over fire with an amalgam of gold and mercury, used for furniture mounts and ornamental objects.
gold or gold powder prepared for use in gilding.
Origin of ormolu
1755-65; < French or moulu ground gold, equivalent to or (< Latin aurum) + moulu, past participle of moudre to grind < Latin molere Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ormolu
Historical Examples
  • The wood-work is painted white, and enriched with wreaths of leaves in ormolu.

    The Care of Books John Willis Clark
  • Coal-scuttles, like andirons, should be made of bronze, ormolu or iron.

    The Decoration of Houses Edith Wharton
  • I shall merely present them with an ormolu timepiece—whatever that may be.

    Pincher Martin, O.D. H. Taprell Dorling
  • None of the pinchbeck pedigrees and ormolu titles of the continent.

    Endymion Benjamin Disraeli
  • ormolu ornaments, when applied to cabinets and other works in wood, are also never satisfactory.

    Principles of Decorative Design

    Christopher Dresser
  • The late Mr. Walter Pater was once invited to admire a hideous wedding-present, compact of ormolu and malachite.

    Collections and Recollections George William Erskine Russell
  • The tall bronze girandoles were Cupids supporting branches of flowers in ormolu to hold candles.

    The Old Furniture Book N. Hudson Moore
  • It is a good example of the best Empire work, and is mahogany ornamented with ormolu mounts in classic style.

    The Old Furniture Book N. Hudson Moore
  • They preferred the small clocks in ebony or alabaster casings with ormolu mounts.

    The Old Furniture Book N. Hudson Moore
  • I can see the rooms crusted with ormolu, the fauns foisted on the ceiling, the ripping rident goddesses on the walls.

British Dictionary definitions for ormolu


  1. a gold-coloured alloy of copper, tin, or zinc used to decorate furniture, mouldings, etc
  2. (as modifier): an ormolu clock
gold prepared to be used for gilding
Word Origin
C18: from French or moulu ground gold
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ormolu

"alloy of copper, zinc, and tin, resembling gold," 1765, from French or moulu, literally "ground gold," from or "gold" (from Latin aurum, from PIE *aus- "gold;" see aureate)) + moulu "ground up," past participle of moudre "to grind," from Latin molere "to grind" (see mallet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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