The phrase, ‘all that glitters is not gold’ is old but it is relevant

The phrase, ‘all that glitters is not gold’ is old but it is relevant even in the current times. It suggests that we must be very cautious about everything in life as we may be deceived by pretty faces and attractive packages that may only look good but in reality are fake and deceitful.

The Origin of the Phrase

The saying ‘all that glitters is not gold’ has evolved from the old phrase ‘all that glisters is not gold’ which was coined by the famous English author, William Shakespeare. It found mention in his play, The Merchant of Venice published back in 1596. ‘Glister’ was eventually replaced by ‘glitter’ as the phrase gained popularity.

John Dryden used the phrase, ‘all that glitters is not gold’ in his poem, The Hind and the Panther in the year 1687. “All, as they say, that glitters, is not gold”, he wrote. The phrase is used universally to emphasize the fact that everything that seems beautiful or good may not actually be nice.

All that Glitters is Not Gold – A Warning

The phrase ‘all that glitters is not gold’ is a sort of warning. It warns people not to trust anything just by its external appearance. This has been done with the example of gold. It implies that everything that appears appealing to the eye may not be all that great. We must stay cautious at all times. We must scrutinize people, situations, things and opportunities and try to understand them well before we accept them. If we fail to do so, we may be fooled and deceived. The phrase has been passed on from generation to generation and is commonly used to emphasize the mentioned point.

All that Glitters is not Gold – A Lesson for Life

My grandfather often uses the phrase, ‘all that glitters is not gold’. He uses it to warn us against several things. As a little kid, I was often attracted towards eye-catching things. I couldn’t think and analyze whether those things were actually useful for me or not. I also did not have a sense of whether they were right for me or not. Besides, I never really understood whether they were worth the amount being paid.

I wanted to purchase every toy that appealed to my eye without caring about whether it was useful for my age or not. However, I was often disappointed later as most of these toys didn’t turn out the way I expected them too. These were mostly wrapped in beautiful packing but as I opened them, there was hardly much material to play with. Often times, they were not even of my interest.

Seeing me disappointed with my newly bought toy, my grandfather once sat with me and explained a useful concept at length mentioning the phrase ‘all that glitters is not gold’. He told me that market is flooded with numerous things and most of these are covered with fancy exteriors in order to lure the customers and increase sale. We cannot bring home everything that appeals to us as not everything is useful to us and not everything is worth purchasing. We need to check its utility and also assess whether we really need it or not before opting for it instead to just purchasing it for its face value.

He also explained that this holds good even for people and relationships. In life, we may meet many people. It is natural for us to get attracted to those who are beautiful and dress up nicely however we need to understand that these people may not necessarily be good at heart. So, before making friends and other relationships, we must observe the person properly to avoid getting hurt later.


Several phrases are coined by various poets and authors from time to time, however only few remain popular even after centuries of their origin. ‘All that glitters is not gold’ is one such phrase.

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UPDATED DATE : May 31, 2019  11:42 AM

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