- Informal a worthless metal bar gilded and sold as solid gold in a swindle
- Informal anything worthless passed off as genuine or valuable
- Mil. Slang a person who tries to avoid work; shirker; loaferalso gold′brick·er
verbgold·bricked, gold·brick·ing, gold·bricks
(third-person singular simple present goldbricks, present participle goldbricking, simple past and past participle goldbricked)
gold + brick, originally (1850s) an actual gold ingot or “gold brick/goldbrick”, later a swindle that consisted of selling a putative goldbrick, which was only coated in gold. The swindle is attested from 1879, the sense “to swindle” is attested 1902, and the sense “to shirk” is attested 1914, popularized as World War I armed forces slang. In early 1900s, used to refer to an unattractive young woman – not pretty, nor able to talk or dance (attested 1903), thence to refer to incompetent enlisted troops at the start of World War I, reinforced by the rank insignia of second lieutenants, which was a gold rectangle.