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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ormolu

Historical Examples of ormolu

  • 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.

  • 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.


    Benjamin Disraeli

  • Ormolu ornaments, when applied to cabinets and other works in wood, are also never satisfactory.

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 for ormolu

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

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