a. Symbol Au A soft, yellow, corrosion-resistant element, the most malleable and ductile metal, occurring in veins and alluvial deposits and recovered by mining, panning, or sluicing. A good thermal and electrical conductor, gold is generally alloyed to increase its strength, and it is used as a common monetary standard, in jewelry, for decoration, and as a plated coating on a wide variety of electrical and mechanical components. Atomic number 79; atomic weight 196.967; melting point 1,064.2°C; boiling point 2,856.0°C; specific gravity 19.3; valence 1, 3. See Periodic Table.
b. Coinage made of this element.
c. A gold standard.
2. Money; riches.
3. A light olive-brown to dark yellow, or a moderate, strong to vivid yellow.
4. Something regarded as having great value or goodness: a heart of gold.
5. A medal made of gold awarded to one placing first in a competition, as in the Olympics: won 9 golds in 13 events.
Having the color of gold.
[Middle English, from Old English; see ghel-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.