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Gild the Lily, rose petals and rocket-propelled grenades

Posted by Bruce Kahl on May 21, 2004

In Reply to: Gild the Lily posted by Lewis on May 21, 2004

: : Hi! I have no idea what this means. Can you please help me figure it out (and maybe where it comes from?) Thank you - Sax

: 'To gild' is to apply gold to an object to make it shine. A lily is a flower that is very beautiful in its natural state, so to gild a lily is unnecessary and can actually detract from its natural beauty.

: I think it has a Biblical origin - certainly lilies are referred to there asd examples of natural beauty.

Yes, to "gild the lily" means to "To cover with or as if with a thin layer of gold".

In addition, you can use the phrase "to give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance to".

For instance, the President of the USA gilded the lily by telling us that our troops would be greeted with rose petals following the "liberation" of Iraq but the reality is they are being greeted with rocket-propelled grenades, not rose petals.