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Two Gold Expressions

FILE - Gold bullions are displayed at GoldSilver Central's office in Singapore June 19, 2017.
FILE - Gold bullions are displayed at GoldSilver Central's office in Singapore June 19, 2017.
Two Gold Expressions
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And now Words and Their Stories from VOA Learning English.

On this show we talk about words and expressions in the English language. Today, we talk about gold.

Gold is a highly-valued metal. We also use the word “gold” to describe a person or thing of extreme quality or value.

For example, if a friend stood by you in very difficult times, you can say that your friendship is gold to you.

Here is another example. If you want to convince someone that they can trust you, you can tell them that your word is gold. That means your word has value. You are honest, and they can trust what you say.

In English, the word “gold” appears in many expressions. Today we talk about two. One is a compliment, something nice to say about someone or something. The other is an insult, something bad to say about someone or something.

Let’s start with the insult. That expression is: “All that glitters is not gold.”

All that glitters is not gold.

First, what does it mean to glitter? To glitter means to shine brightly. Imagine an object that shines by reflecting small flashes of bright light. It is glittering. For example, the diamond glittered in the sunlight.

Glitter can also mean to shine with strong emotion. For example, if someone looks very angry, you can say that their eyes glittered in anger. But in today’s expression we are talking about something that looks beautiful because it is so bright and shiny.

“All that glitters is not gold” means something seems wonderful and beautiful, but in fact is not. You can also move the word “not” and say it this way: “Not all that glitters is gold.”

When we say “not all that glitters is gold” we mean that just because something looks attractive does not mean it is valuable. The attractive appearance of something is not a clear sign of its true nature.

Another way to say this is “appearances can be deceiving.”

Now, let’s hear it used in two examples.

Example 1

A: I thought that my new computer would be great.

B: And … it’s not?

A: No. It just cost a lot of money and looks nice.

B: You know what they say, “All that glitters is not gold.”

Example 2

A: Hey, how is the new job going?

B: Well … it’s okay.

A: Just okay? Last month you told me it was much better than your current job -- more money, better office, and the chance to meet famous people.

B: Well, let’s just say not all that glitters is gold. The job may pay well, but my co-workers are just awful. I’m really unhappy.

Worth your weight in gold

Now for the compliment – the nice thing to say about someone.

That expression is: “Worth your weight in gold.”

Imagine if someone made a sculpture of you out of gold. It would weigh a lot, and it would be worth a lot of money. And to us, our listeners are worth their weight in gold!

And that’s all the time we have for this Words and Their Stories.

Until next time … I’m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

reflect – v. to throw back light or sound

bright – adj. giving off or filled with much light

deceive – v. to cause to believe what is not true

sculpture – n. a three-dimensional work of art (such as a statue)