Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person, especially a soldier, who avoids assigned duties or work; a shirker.
  • intransitive v. To shirk one's assigned duties or responsibilities.
  • transitive v. To cheat; swindle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A gold brick, especially one that is fraudulent or nonexistent; also used figuratively.
  • n. A shirker or malingerer
  • n. A swindler
  • v. To shirk or malinger
  • v. To swindle

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. an idle worthless person.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a soldier who performs his duties without proper care or effort
  • v. avoid (one's assigned duties)
  • n. anything that is supposed to be valuable but turns out to be worthless
  • n. an idle worthless person
  • v. deprive of by deceit
  • n. a brick-shaped block that looks like gold but is not

Etymologies

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,[1] the sense “to swindle” is attested 1902, and the sense “to shirk” is attested 1914, popularized as World War I armed forces slang.[2] 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.[1] (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Such activities might have included producing vituperative TV ads calling a decorated-war-hero senator a goldbrick, or sponsoring hysterical Web sites accusing the president's father of being King Faisal's fifth wife.

    Incumbent-Protection Acts

  • I was getting goldbrick looks from the men working at their desks, so I went back to my cubicle.

    White Jazz

  • Real work started to seem like a life sentence, so he dealt with it by becoming a goldbrick.

    Over the Edge

  • I treasure that ball like a goldbrick, till one day when I was tossin it aroun in the yard, a big ole dog come up an grap it outta the air an chewed it up.

    Forrest Gump

  • True enough, assignments do not all have the same level of work requirement, and one is sometimes handed a wide open opportunity to goldbrick.

    The Armed Forces Officer Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-2

  • I do not feel hard toward goldbrick men and "blue sky" venders.

    The University of Hard Knocks

  • I reckon I'll take along some of the new income tax receipts, and the recipe for making clover honey out of clabber and apple peelings; and the order blanks for the McGuffey's readers, which afterwards turn out to be McCormick's reapers; and the pearl necklace found on the train; and a pocket-size goldbrick; and a-- '

    The Gentle Grafter

  • Caniff, but he's a hard-drinking, womanizing goldbrick whose mother, Malory Jessica Walter, runs the financially struggling ISIS, which stands for International Secret Intelligence

    SFGate: Top News Stories

  • The political class can force people to pay taxes without offering any public services in return, as pensions and retirement benefits, benefits for todays 'seniors (but no tomorrow's), interest on debts, patronage and seniority goldbrick jobs are retained even as public services disappear.

    Room Eight

  • Still, the unit routinely scores a below-30\% satisfaction rating on customer surveys, in part because they are surly, know nothing, and goldbrick with the impunity of the unionized.

    SMITH Magazine Superfeed

Comments

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  • "Many workers are fed up with work. There are high and rising rates of absenteeism, turnover, employee theft and sabotage, wildcat strikes, and overall goldbricking on the job. There may be some movement toward a conscious and not just visceral rejection of work."
    - Bob Black, The Abolition of Work, 1985.

    October 24, 2011