"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

All that glitters

The phrase 'All that glitters is not gold' is a very old one and means appearances can be deceptive.

I was taught that this was actually a misquote from Shakespeare who wrote 'All that glisters is not gold' in The Merchant of Venice (1596).

I recently heard that it was not a misquote since it appears even before Shakespeare's time as 'All that glitters is not gold' in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1387). However, upon checking I found that this was simply a modern translation and the original was worded:
But al thyng which that shineth as the gold
Nis nat gold, as that I have herd it told...

So we should be saying "All that glisters...", after all.

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