A Dictionary of the English Language
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Gold

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Gold. n.s. [ʒold, Saxon; golud, riches, Welsh. It is called gold in our English tongue either of geel, as Scaliger says, which is in Dutch to shine; or of another Dutch word, which is gelten, and signifies in Latin valere, in English to be of price or value: hence cometh their ordinary word gelt, for money. Peacham on Drawing.]

  1. Gold is the heaviest, the most dense, the most simple, the most ductile, and most fixed of all bodies; not to be injured either by air or fire, and seeming incorruptible. It is soluble by means of sea-salt; but is injured by no other salt, and is most easily of all metals amalgamated with silver. Gold is frequently found native, and very rarely in a state of ore. It never constitutes a peculiar ore, but is found most frequently among ore of silver. Native gold is seldom found pure, but has almost constantly silver with it, and very frequently copper. Gold dust, or native gold, in small masses, is mixed among the sand of rivers in many parts of the world. It is found, in the greatest abundance, bedded in masses of hard stone, often at the depth of a hundred and fifty fathoms in the mines of Peru. Pure gold is so fixed, that Boerhaave informs us of an ounce of it set in the eye of a glass furnace for two months, without losing a single grain. Hill on Fossils.

    Gold hath these natures: greatness of weight, closeness of parts, fixation, pliantness or softness, immunity from rust, and the colour or tincture of yellow. Bacon's Nat. History.

    Ah! Buckingham, now do I ply the touch,
    To try if thou be current gold indeed.
    Shakes. Rich. III.

    We commonly take shape and colour for so presumptive ideas of several species, that, in a good picture, we readily say this is gold, and that a silver goblet, only by the different figures and colours represented to the eye by the pencil. Locke.

    The gold fraught vessel, which mad tempests beat,
    He sees now vainly make to his retreat.
    Dryd. Tyran. Love.

  2. Money.

    For me, the gold of France did not seduce,
    Although I did admit it as a motive
    The sooner to effect what I intended.
    Shakesp. Henry V.

    Thou, that so stoutly hast resisted me,
    Give me thy gold, if thou hast any gold;
    For I have bought it with an hundred blows.
    Shakes. H. VI.

    If I want gold, steal but a beggar's dog,
    And give it Timon, why, the dog coins gold.
    Shakespeare.

  3. It is used for any thing pleasing or valuable. So among the ancients χρυσῆ ἀφροδίτη; and animamq; moresque aureos educit in astra. Horace.

    The king's a bawcock, and a heart of gold,
    A lad of life, an imp of fame.
    Shakespeare's Henry V.

Sources: Bacon, Francis (396) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Henry V (66) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 3 (39) · Hill, John (29) · Horace (1) · Locke, John (269) · Peacham, Henry (53) · Shakespeare's Richard III (63) · Scaliger, Joseph Justus (2) · Shakespeare's Timon of Athens (32)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Gold." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 1, 2012. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=5237.


  1. χρυσῆ ἀφροδίτη = “Golden Aphrodite”

    The Horace (from Odes 4.2) reads: “and raises [his] golden soul and will up to the stars.”

  2. Brandi on March 31st, 2011 at 3:16 am

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