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See more synonyms for gild on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), gild·ed or gilt, gild·ing.
  1. to coat with gold, gold leaf, or a gold-colored substance.
  2. to give a bright, pleasing, or specious aspect to.
  3. Archaic. to make red, as with blood.
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  1. gild the lily, to add unnecessary ornamentation, a special feature, etc., in an attempt to improve something that is already complete, satisfactory, or ideal: After that wonderful meal, serving a fancy dessert would be gilding the lily.
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Origin of gild1

1300–50; Middle English gilden, Old English -gyldan; akin to gold
Related formsgild·a·ble, adjective


  1. guild.
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or gild

  1. an organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., especially one formed for mutual aid or protection.
  2. any of various medieval associations, as of merchants or artisans, organized to maintain standards and to protect the interests of its members, and that sometimes constituted a local governing body.
  3. Botany. a group of plants, as parasites, having a similar habit of growth and nutrition.
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Origin of guild

before 1000; Middle English gild(e) < Old Norse gildi guild, payment; replacing Old English gegyld guild; akin to German Geld money, Gothic -gild tax
Can be confusedgild gilt guild guilt
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for gild

Historical Examples

  • They were so attached to a goat that they wanted to gild its horns.

    Criminal Man

    Gina Lombroso-Ferrero

  • See how it seems to gild everything as the light rises, Dolly!

  • If it is desired to gild the inside of a glass vessel, Solution No.

    On Laboratory Arts

    Richard Threlfall

  • There is gold enough there to gild the walls and ceiling, if it were beaten thin.

  • He undertook to gild and letter books at his customers' own houses.

    The Book-Collector

    William Carew Hazlitt

British Dictionary definitions for gild


verb gilds, gilding, gilded or gilt (ɡɪlt) (tr)
  1. to cover with or as if with gold
  2. gild the lily
    1. to adorn unnecessarily something already beautiful
    2. to praise someone inordinately
  3. to give a falsely attractive or valuable appearance to
  4. archaic to smear with blood
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Derived Formsgilder, noun

Word Origin

Old English gyldan, from gold gold; related to Old Norse gylla, Middle High German vergülden


  1. a variant spelling of guild (def. 2)
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Derived Formsgildsman, noun



  1. an organization, club, or fellowship
  2. (esp in medieval Europe) an association of men sharing the same interests, such as merchants or artisans: formed for mutual aid and protection and to maintain craft standards or pursue some other purpose such as communal worship
  3. ecology a group of plants, such as a group of epiphytes, that share certain habits or characteristics
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Word Origin

C14: of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse gjald payment, gildi guild; related to Old English gield offering, Old High German gelt money
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

Word Origin and History for gild


Old English gyldan "to gild, to cover with a thin layer of gold," from Proto-Germanic *gulthianan (cf. Old Norse gylla "to gild," Old High German ubergulden "to cover with gold"), from *gulthan "gold" (see gold). Related: Gilded; gilding. Figuratively from 1590s.

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early 13c., yilde (spelling later influenced by Old Norse gildi "guild, brotherhood"), a semantic fusion of Old English gegyld "guild" and gild, gyld "payment, tribute, compensation," from Proto-Germanic *gelth- "pay" (cf. Old Frisian geld "money," Old Saxon geld "payment, sacrifice, reward," Old High German gelt "payment, tribute;" see yield (v.)).

The connecting sense is of a tribute or payment to join a protective or trade society. But some see the root in its alternative sense of "sacrifice," as if in worship, and see the word as meaning a combination for religious purposes, either Christian or pagan. The Anglo-Saxon guilds had a strong religious component; they were burial societies that paid for masses for the souls of deceased members as well as paying fines in cases of justified crime. The continental custom of guilds of merchants arrived after the Conquest, with incorporated societies of merchants in each town or city holding exclusive rights of doing business there. In many cases they became the governing body of a town (cf. Guildhall, which came to be the London city hall). Trade guilds arose 14c., as craftsmen united to protect their common interest.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper