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Old English gyldan "to gild, to cover with a thin layer of gold," from Proto-Germanic *gulthjan (source also of Old Norse gylla "to gild," Old High German ubergulden "to cover with gold"), verb from *gultham "gold" (see gold). Related: Gilded; gilding. Figuratively from 1590s.
1560s, past-participle adjective from gild (v.). Late Old English had gegylde; Middle English had gilden (adj.). In modern use the more dignified past participle of gild, alternative to gilt. Shakespeare's lilies were never gilded; the quote ("King John," iv.2) is, "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily." Gilded Age as an era in U.S. history (roughly 1870-1900) is from the novel "The Gilded Age" by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, published in 1873. 59ce067264