by Liz Walter
Of all the elements in the periodic table, gold is the one that humans seem to love the most for its colour, its rarity and its physical properties (it is ideal for making coins). It’s not surprising, therefore that gold is a common metaphor for people or things of high quality. Today we will look at some phrases associated with this idea.
If we say that someone or something is worth their weight in gold, we mean that they are extremely useful. Interestingly, this expression can be used to describe things that do not have a physical weight:
A good assistant is worth their weight in gold.
The results of this research were worth their weight in gold.
These trials are the gold standard for testing new vaccines.
The 1930s were the golden age of detective fiction.
He is currently the golden boy of Spanish football.
My neighbour has a heart of gold.
There are several expressions that focus on the idea of gold as treasure. For instance, if you strike gold, you suddenly become very rich or successful. If someone thinks that the streets are paved with gold, they think (usually wrongly) that it is easy to become rich in a place. Similarly, we use the phrase a pot/crock of gold at the end of the rainbow to describe something that is very desirable, but impossible to get:
The band struck gold with their third album.
I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold.
He invested his life savings in the business, believing there would be a crock of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Gold digger is a very negative phrase for someone who forms relationships with rich people in order to get money from them, and a golden goose (or the goose that lays the golden eggs) is something that makes you rich and continues to make you rich for a long time:
His second wife was nothing but a gold digger.
The partnership between the two singers proved to be the goose that laid the golden egg.
The expression like gold dust (UK)/gold (US) focuses on the idea of gold being desirable but rare:
Good decorators are like gold dust at the moment.