Silence is gold or golden?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by roccobarocco, Nov 13, 2007.

  1. roccobarocco Member

    I am all at sea when it comes to differentiate the two "gold" & "golden"?
    As in this idiom, which one is the better choice?

    Furthermore, do we have a strict discipline as when to use "gold" and the other in related circumstances?

    I know there are "gold fish", "gold medal", "golden necklace"...
    Gee, are the medal and the necklace all made from gold?
    Why the different choices of words?

    Thank you in advance.
  2. Trisia

    Trisia mod de viață

    About what to use when, maybe this can help: gold or golden

    "Silence is golden" is more common, I believe. And I prefer it, too (it matches Panj's explanation in the thread I gave you the link to)

    EDIT: there's another gold-golden thread: gold-golden tooth

    EDIT2: Nice to see you around, Dimcl.
  3. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    You would say "Silence is golden". One would normally say "gold necklace" (not "golden necklace") because the necklace is made of gold (same thing goes for "gold medal"). Silence is not made of gold.
  4. JeLu Member

    Lebanon / Arabic

    Silence is surely not made of gold but it is very "precious". Isn'y better to say "Silence is Gold" since we're referring to its value here not its color?! I see it better than "Golden", what do you think?
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Silence may be precious, but it is not made of gold or actually gold in any way.
    Irrespective of the logic, the idiom is "silence is golden". If you say "silence is gold" you will sound odd.
  6. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    "Silence is golden" is a fixed saying.

    To me, "golden" is a bit old fashioned, and I use it only in certain ways. Eg. the saying "silence is golden", or when referring to a certain quality of light.
  7. roccobarocco Member

    if "golden" is always used to describe something which has the look of gold, why do still call the fish "gold fish"?

    I could make out most of the thread Tricia gave me except for this one.

    Thank you!
  8. rodoke Senior Member

    Illinois, USA
    en-US; .us
    The expression "silence is golden" is the second half of a longer saying "Speech is silver(n); silence is golden" (among a whole bunch of other variations). The point of the comparison to gold is not to call silence good, but to state that it is sometimes better to stay silent than to speak.

    The missing first half of the expression refers to a long history of English expressions linking great speaking ability to silver*, thought the only one I can think of off the top of my head is "silver-tongued devil".

    *(if a helpful forer@ could provide a reference on this point, I'd appreciate it)
  9. roccobarocco Member

    Will someone please give me a hand with "gold fish"?
  10. rodoke Senior Member

    Illinois, USA
    en-US; .us
    Actually it's one word: goldfish.
  11. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    A goldfish is only gold-coloured, it has no other attributes that could be called 'golden'
  12. roccobarocco Member

    I read in another thread that if you refer to something which has the appearance of gold, the adjective should be "golden" as in "
    She was a golden-haired maiden".

    I am all so comfused...
  13. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    I might say 'she has golden hair', which adds an element of value to it. But definitely 'gold-coloured hair'
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    A gold fish would be a fish made of gold.
    A golden fish would be a fish that looked gold - for example, most goldfish are golden. That doesn't make them goldenfish.

    It's perhaps useful to suggest that there is no absolute rule.
    The suggestions offered here are guidelines, not rules.
  15. sdcp Senior Member

    Hungarian, Slovakia
    Sorry for chiming in. There is also a song called "Silence is golden". :)

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