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gilded cage

gilded cage in Culture

gilded cage definition


To be like “a bird in a gilded cage” is to live in luxury but without freedom: “Because the movie star could not go out without being recognized and pursued, she stayed in her penthouse, living like a bird in a gilded cage.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Examples from the Web for gilded cage
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The twittering canary is going to hop out of the gilded cage, and build her own nest.

    The Beauty Mrs. Wilson Woodrow
  • She guessed, that he saw nothing in the gilded cage, but her image in his mind.

  • For the first time for nearly a month he remembered the bird in its gilded cage.

    In Story-land Elizabeth Harrison
  • If you refuse me, you will remain a prisoner in a gilded cage, but no harm shall come to you.'

    The Gay Adventure Richard Bird
  • Captivity was telling upon him, and he was pining as an eagle pines when caught and shut up by man even in a gilded cage.

    The Lord of Dynevor Evelyn Everett-Green
  • Also, he wished he dared ask her not to sing that song about "She's only a bird in a gilded cage."

    The Lure of the Dim Trails by (AKA B. M. Sinclair) B. M. Bower
  • For the first time for nearly a month, he remembered the bird in the gilded cage.

  • A great city might be beautiful to others: to her it was only as its gilded cage is to a mountain bird.

    Folle-Farine Ouida
Idioms and Phrases with gilded cage

gilded cage

The encumbrances or limitations that often accompany material wealth, as in She had furs, jewelry, whatever money could buy, but was trapped in a gilded cage. This metaphoric expression indicating that riches cannot buy happiness was popularized (and possibly coined) in a song, “A Bird in a Gilded Cage” (1990; lyrics by Arthur J. Lamb, music by Harry von Tilzer), about a young girl marrying for wealth instead of love and paying for luxury with a life of regret.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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