All That Glitters is Not Gold

Meaning of “All That Glitters is Not Gold”

The proverb “all that glitters is not gold” means not to trust everything you see. Gold is a precious metal and is rare. Hence it is very expensive. However, there are other metals which are widely sold in the markets which looks like gold. The phrase also means ‘do not be deceived by looks because a person may look innocent but they are not.

Origin of “All That Glitters is Not Gold”

The proverb “all that glitters is not gold” is stated to have been first used by William Shakespeare in his famous play, The Merchant of Venice. It was published in 1595. Morocco speaks this phrase in his conversation with Portia. It goes:

O hell! what have we here?
A carrion Death, within whose empty eye
There is a written scroll! I’ll read the writing.
All that glitters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Song of Aragorn by J. R. R. Tolkien

All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king

The song of Aragorn is also known as The Riddle of Strider. This poem is derived from the epic novel ‘The Lord of the Rings”. Each line of the poem tells about Aragorn who protects the hobbits, especially Frodo and Sam. The phrase is used to explain that Aragorn appearances are plain but he is a very important person. The further lines describe his royal lineage. In short, Aragorn is a king without a crown.

Example #2

Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold) sung by Dan Seals

Saw your picture on a poster in a cafe out in Phoenix
Guess you’re still the sweetheart of the rodeo
As for me and little Casey, we still make the circuit
In a one-horse trailer and a mobile home

And she still asks about you all the time
And I guess we never even cross your mind

But, oh sometimes I think about you
And the way you used to ride out
In your rhinestones and your sequins
With the sunlight on your hair

And, oh the crowd will always love you
But as for me, I’ve come to know
Everything that glitters is not gold

The song is about the singer’s future love before he meets her. While seeing the picture of a girl, he describes her and comes to the conclusion that “all that glitters is not gold”. He also clarifies that the girl is not gold. In other words, the singer uses the phrase because he is well aware that the girl’s dressing and her looks could be deceptive.

Example #3

All That Glitters Is Not Gold by Marcel Marshall

The novel set in Antigua and shows a woman, Te’Kare, and her struggle with her weakness of being a female. It tells about her journey and will to achieve things in life. Although she wants to excel in life, her dream of outdoing in a society like Antigua is not possible. She continues to struggle with the adverse situation. Later,  she realizes that if she adopts ways that are not compatible with the social traditions, she may lose her boyfriend, D’mitri Stanford. Hence, she comes to the conclusion that everything that glitters is not gold.

Example #4

All That Glitters is Not Gold by Marla Maples

This a memoir of Marla Maples, a pageant winner. She shares the dark sides of the elite social circle in her book. Not only has she charmed the readers with her childhood memories, but also highlighted her adulthood in Georgia. Along with her experience in the glamor industry. She uses the phrase to inform the readers that places like Hollywood look good but they are not as they appear to be. They are dangerous.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Anna was fascinated by a new necklace at the mall. Her mother warned her – the necklace is overpriced and all that glitters is not gold. In fact, the necklace was made of imitation jewelry.”

Example #2: “Do not trust the person who always smiles at you. All that glitters is not gold.”

Example #3: “Manny was sure that the fruits would be sweet. Alas, all that glitters is not gold, he realized when they were all rotten inside.”

Example #4: “I know all that glitters is not gold but I can’t afford real gold. I don’t mind using imitation jewelry because they are good.”

Example #5: “If you want to buy a good phone, read its specifications and don’t go by the looks. I need to remind you – all that glitters is not gold.”