All that glitters is not gold

All that glitters is not gold

All that glitters is not gold is a well-known saying.

The expression, in various forms, dates from at least as far as the 12th century.. It might even go back as far as Aesop.

The popular form of the expression is a corruption of a line in William Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice. The line comes from the secondary plot, the puzzle of Portia's boxes:

All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgement old
Your answer had not been inscroll'd
Fare you well, your suit is cold.

Note that Shakespeare used glisters rather than glitters.

Cultural references

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven

  • "All that Glitters Isn't Gold" is a 1990 song by the Cover Girls.
  • Marilyn Manson's song "Posthuman" contains the words "All that glitters is cold".
  • Bruce Dickinson's song "Return of the King" contains the words "I know the king will come again when all that glitters turn to rust".
  • Smash Mouth's song "All Star" contains the verse "All that glitters is gold, Only shooting stars break the mold."
  • Kanye West's song "Family Business", contains the words in the intro "All that glitters is not gold, now gold is not a reality, real is what you live to be"
  • Peter Tosh sings the line "it's not everything, you know, that glitter is gold" in the Wailers' "Brand New Second Hand"
  • In Diablo II, Warriv speaks of Gheed (after the mission The Forgotten Tower) as "All that twitters is not bold".
  • The particularly unusual episode "All That Glitters" of SpongeBob SquarePants features a mysterious superimposed Spongebob delivering the quotation while his on-screen counterpart learns such a moral lesson.

See also


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