Wednesday, 20 February 2013



Adjective. Rare. L18. 
[from Latin aurum gold + -vorus from vorare devour]

Consuming gold; avidly desirous of gold.

While part of gold's peculiarity is that it's edible to humans, I'm yet to come across any creature, human or otherwise, that could literally be described as aurivorous. Gold leaf has traditionally been used for decorative purposes in food, particularly with high-end luxury foods and most notably in confectionery. Even now, various alcoholic drinks are available with small flakes of gold suspended in them, two examples being Gold Strike and Goldwasser. For those that like to pore over the ingredients of everything they eat, gold's E-number is E-175.

In a less literal sense, there have been some remarkably nasty aurivorous executions throughout history. Roman Emperor Valerian and the Spanish Bishop Vincente de Valverde are both said to have had molten gold poured down their throats as punishment for excessive greed.

The second application of aurivorous, that of being avidly desirous of gold, is more easily applicable. Auric Goldfinger (whose first name means of or pertaining to gold), the infamous gold-obsessed Bond villain, immediately springs to mind. He also used gold to execute his enemies, as in the iconic scene where Bond discovers Goldfinger's secretary, Jill Masterson, painted from head to toe in gold, dead from "skin suffocation." The numerous gold rushes throughout history (and continuing in present day) could also be described as aurivorous. In fact, due to the bizarre relationship that humans have with gold, in this sense we are very much an aurivorous species.  

Yes it's complete nonsense, but it still made an iconic cinematic scene


  1. I was just watching a Game of Thrones episode where one of the characters had molten gold poured on his head as a punishment for wanting to be a king. It was unpleasant to watch.

    Anyway, if I were to use it in real life I would say that Greek politicians are aurivorous.

    Have a good day. :)

    1. Eek! It makes Goldfinger's all-body paint seem rather homely in comparison.

  2. Goldschläger is somewhat popular here in the States. Also, I didn't know gold had an E-number? I stand corrected.

    1. I didn't either - it has to be one of favourite bits of trivia discovered thus far in writing Lexicolatry : o )