heart of gold

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Idioms and Phrases

A very kind and good nature, as in Bill is very generous; he has a heart of gold . This expression alludes to gold in the sense of “something valued for its goodness.” [Late 1500s]


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More About Heart Of Gold

What does heart of gold mean?

A heart of gold is a good and kind nature. A person who is said to have a heart of gold is thought to be a good and kind person.

The word heart is very commonly used to refer to the metaphorical or hypothetical center of human emotions or human nature. The word gold implies goodness or purity. In this way, heart of gold is an idiom implying that a person is truly good and kind at their core.

Similar phrases imply other things—heart of stone, for example, refers to a cold and unfeeling nature.

The phrase heart of gold is sometimes used to contrast with another trait seen as less positive, or to suggest that someone often seen as immoral is actually a good person.

Example: He’s not the best businessman, but he’s got a heart of gold.

Where does heart of gold come from?

The phrase heart of gold has been used since at least the 1500s. The phrase is thought to have been popularized through its use in William Shakespeare’s play Henry V, which was written around 1599.

In the play, a peasant uses the phrase to praise the king, who is in disguise at the time:

The king’s a bawcock, and a heart of gold,
A lad of life, an imp of fame;
Of parents good, of fist most valiant.

These lines emphasize the strength of Henry’s moral character by showing that even a peasant believes Henry to be a good, valiant king based on his deeds, rather than his kingly status or appearance.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for heart of gold?

  • kind nature
  • pure heart

What are some words that share a root or word element with heart of gold?

What are some words that often get used in discussing heart of gold?

How is heart of gold used in real life?

Heart of gold is always used positively.



Try using heart of gold!

Which of the following words would NOT be used to describe a person who is said to have a heart of gold?

A. kind
B. greedy
C. charitable
D. generous

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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