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El Dorado

Golden illusion; a land or means of unbounded wealth. Orellana, lieutenant of Pizarro, pretended he had discovered a land of gold ( el dorado) between the rivers Orinoco and Amazon, in South America. Sir Walter Raleigh twice visited Guiana as the spot indicated, and published a highly-coloured account of its enormous wealth. Figuratively, a source of wit, wealth, or abundance of any kind.

The real “land of gold” is California, and not Guiana. (See Balnibarbi.)

“The whole comedy is a sort of El Dorado of wit.” —T. Moore

El Dorado (masculine), “the gilt one,” can hardly refer to a country; it seems more likely to refer to some prince; and we are told of a prince in South America who was every day powdered with gold-dust blown through a reed. If this is admitted, no wonder those who sought a golden country were disappointed.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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