All that glitters is not gold
Meaning that which appears showy may not be valuable. It is most often attributed to Shakespeare Merchant of Venice (1596) Act II, Scene VII where Morocco says, “All that glitters is not gold, often have you heard that told.” The earlier editions of Shakespeare would have used the form, all that glisters is not gold, glister being the archaic form of glitter. Shakespeare is right. His audiences would have heard the expression often thus making it certain that he did not coin it. The first known attribution in writing is given to the 12th century theologian Alain de Lille who wrote, “Do not hold everything gold that shines like gold.” Chaucer’s use of the expression in Canterbury Tales, The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale (c.1387) is almost identical to Shakespeare’s: “However, all that glitters is not gold, And that’s the truth as we’re often told [modern translation].” Gold of course has been a source of wealth from antiquity, making it more than likely that the expression was known and used long before even the 12th century citation.