1
   

Goldbrick derivation

 
 
Equus
 
Reply Sat 17 Jun, 2006 09:50 am
What is the derivation of the term "goldbrick" as used to describe someone who avoids work or shirks their responsibility? It would seem to me that a gold brick would be something valuable, and that calling someone a gold brick should be a compliment...?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 2,613 • Replies: 1
No top replies

 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jun, 2006 10:32 am
Equus, I had forgotten that term. Here's what I found:

Definition 1: (1) A bar of gold; (2) a shirker, a faker, anyone who dodges work or duties.

Usage 1: Obviously, today's word may refer to a brick cast from gold. Interestingly, it is no longer used in that sense. Bricks now refer almost exclusively to the building material and gold bars are called "ingots." In fact, today's word is probably used more frequently now as a verb than as a noun: to goldbrick means "to shirk or only pretend to work, to avoid shouldering one's duties."

Suggested usage: Goldbricking is a symptom of an ailing workplace, so it is found anywhere there is a job to be done, "The company went down under the sheer weight of the goldbricks it accumulated over the years." It is well beyond irony when the goldbricks at Enron ended up with all the gold. This word is another we inherited from military life (see 'Warspeak: Linguistic Collateral Damage' in our Library). In 'Once there was a War' (1959), John Steinbeck wrote, "In the ranks, billeted with the stinking, cheating, foul-mouthed goldbricks, there were true heroes."

Etymology: The second meaning of today's word originated in the late 19th century in reference to a swindle in which a fake goldbrick was created out of base metal except for one corner, which was solid gold. The entire brick was then gold plated. The mountebank behind the scheme would then offer the brick for sale in hope that some naïf would test the corner and buy the brick for solid gold. The colloquial sense of a goldbrick then became "a fake" and by World War I it was applied to those who faked wounds to avoid combat. By World War II it referred to any kind of shirker in the Army, a sense which was absorbed by the general vocabulary after the war. (Deb Trimmer is certainly no goldbrick, having done an excellent job in suggesting we look into this word's story.)
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

deal - Question by WBYeats
Drs. = female doctor? - Question by oristarA
Let pupils abandon spelling rules, says academic - Discussion by Robert Gentel
Please, I need help. - Question by imsak
Is this sentence grammatically correct? - Question by Sydney-Strock
"come from" - Question by mcook
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Goldbrick derivation
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.06 seconds on 11/29/2021 at 07:00:37