Just as it lines the vaults of Fort Knox, gold is to be liberally found in the English language. Indeed, English is replete with phrases inspired by gold.
Phrases like, “All that glitters is not gold,” or “Old is gold,” “Silence is golden,” “Good as gold,” are all terms English-speakers are familiar with. We have all used these terms numerous times. But few wonder how these terms become so commonplace and why the reference gold.
Quite simply, these phrases are expressing the value of gold. Gold is precious and, as a result, the standard against which the subject of the phrase is measured.
‘Old is gold,’ for instance means nothing more than that age and experience are to be valued. The term ‘Good as gold,’ harks back to a time when bank notes were little more than paper promises to pay in coin, like an IOU. All it means is that something is as genuine or ‘good’ as gold.
Gold is also liberally used in investor jargon in the case of terms like ‘Golden Parachute’ or ‘Golden Handshake’, for instance. A Golden Parachute refers to a compensation package offered to an executive to leave the company in the event of a merger or acquisition. A ‘Golden Handshake’ is a compensation package offered to an employee when he’s made redundant or retires early.
Some companies even issue ‘Golden Shares.’ In Reuters’ case, for instance, now of course Thomson Reuters, the Reuters Founders Share Company holds such a ‘Golden Share’ with overriding voting rights aimed at guarding the independence of the company.
An exemption was made when Thomson acquired Reuters ten years ago but the power of the Founders’ Share remains intact.
Thus gold has inspired jargon and language in many ways. The English language is all the richer for it.