goldbrick vs shirk what difference

what is difference between goldbrick and shirk


Alternative forms

  • gold-brick, gold brick


From gold +‎ brick, originally (1850s) an actual gold ingot or brick, later a swindle that consisted of selling a putative gold brick, 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.


goldbrick (plural goldbricks)

  1. Something fraudulent or nonexistent offered for sale; a swindle or con.
    • 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Smart Set, January 1920, collected in Tales of the Jazz Age:
      Experience is the biggest gold brick in the world. All older people have it for sale.
    • 1932, Rafael De Nogales, Memoirs Of A Soldier Of Fortune, Kessinger Publishing (2006), →ISBN, page 98:
      These, as a rule, were not adverse to buying a goldbrick as long as they knew that there was a chance for them to dump it on somebody else afterwards with some profit.
    • 1932, in Harper’s Magazine, Volume 166,[1] page 520:
      To-day, American attitude toward Europe is comparable to that of the country greenhorn who, having bought a goldbrick on Broadway, now fills the air not merely with the denunciation of the sharpers who tricked his credulity — []
    • 1945, in the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Immigration Bulletin, Volumes 422–433,[2] page 5:
      The average farmer may be less of a victim than some other people by reason of his isolation, conservatism, and hard earned money, but he, too, has too often bought a goldbrick that did not materialize.
    • c. 1967, Edmund Wilson, quoted in Lewis M. Dabney, Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature,[3][4] Macmillan (2005), →ISBN, page 485:
      [] that if he bought a goldbrick from Podhoretz for $25,000, he ought to pay me more than the $5,000 a volume that had been agreed on for the pure gold []
  2. (US, slang, dated) A shirker or malingerer.
    • 1945, Dr. Charley Haly, quoted in Doc: heroic stories of medics, corpsmen, and surgeons in combat by Mark R. Littleton, p. 68
      Mac, there’s not a confounded thing wrong with you. You are an excellent physical specimen and in good health. You’re nothing but a goldbrick. Now, get your butt out of here and don’t ever come back again unless you’re really sick or need an immunization.
    • 2004 (written c. 1990), Howard Ashman, Aladdin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, “Proud of your Boy”:
      Tell me that I’ve been a louse and loafer
      You won’t get a fight here, no ma’am
      Say I’m a goldbrick, a good-off, no good
      But that couldn’t be all that I am
  3. (US, slang, dated) A swindler.


goldbrick (third-person singular simple present goldbricks, present participle goldbricking, simple past and past participle goldbricked)

  1. (US, slang, dated) To shirk or malinger.
  2. (US, slang, dated) To swindle.

Derived terms

  • goldbricker


  • Okinawan: ゴーブレーキ (goobureeki)



Etymology 1

First attested use in 1625–1635, apparently from association with shark (verb), or otherwise directly from German Schurke (rogue, knave).


  • (Received Pronunciation) enPR: shûk, IPA(key): /ʃɜːk/
  • (General American) enPR: shûrk, IPA(key): /ʃɝk/
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(r)k


shirk (third-person singular simple present shirks, present participle shirking, simple past and past participle shirked)

  1. (transitive) To avoid, especially a duty, responsibility, etc.; to stay away from.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:shirk
    • 1826, Julius Hare, Guesses at Truth by Two Brothers
      the usual makeshift by which they try to shirk difficulties
  2. (intransitive) To evade an obligation; to avoid the performance of duty, as by running away.
    • September 7, 1830, Lord Byron, letter to Mr. Murray
      One of the cities shirked from the league.
  3. (transitive) To procure by petty fraud and trickery; to obtain by mean solicitation.
    • 1635, Bishop Rainbow, Sermons
      You that never heard the call of any vocation, [] that shirk living from others, but time from yourselves.


shirk (plural shirks)

  1. One who shirks, who avoids a duty or responsibility.
    Synonym: dodger

Etymology 2

Borrowed from Arabic شِرْك(širk).


  • (non-rhotic) IPA(key): /ʃɪɾk/


shirk (uncountable)

  1. (Islam) The unforgivable sin of idolatry.
    • 2013, James R. White, What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an, Baker Books (→ISBN)
      A person can have committed shirk in their lifetime and still find forgiveness (especially by saying the Shahada and becoming a Muslim). The concept is that if one dies in this state (as a mushrik, an idolator, one who engages in and does not repent shirk), there is no forgiveness.
Related terms
  • mushrik

Further reading

  • shirk (Islam) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia



  • Krish

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