Gold digger  

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Ill-Matched Lovers (c. 1520/1525) by Quentin Matsys, illustrating the senex amans and the gold digger
Ill-Matched Lovers (c. 1520/1525) by Quentin Matsys, illustrating the senex amans and the gold digger

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A gold digger is a person, typically a woman, who engages in a type of transactional relationship for money rather than love. When it turns into marriage, it is a type of marriage of convenience.


Etymology and usage

The term "gold-digger" was popularised as a slang term in the early 20th century. The term originated in Rex Beach's 1911 book, the Ne'er-do-Well, and was occasionally used in other literature during the 1910's, including My Battles with Vice by Virginia Brooks and Muncey's Magazine. The Oxford Dictionary and Random House's Dictionary of Historical Slang state the term is distinct to women because they were much more likely to need to marry a wealthy man in order to maintain a level of socio-economic reasons.

In the 1920s, Peggy Hopkins Joyce was considered an example of a gold digger, with some claiming the term was even coined to describe her.

By the 1930s the term had reached United Kingdom because British film industry made a remake of The Gold Diggers. While the film has been disliked by critics, several sequels with the same title have been made.



The term was popularised by the 1919 play The Gold Digger, which associated chorus girls as wanting to marry rich men, and further reflected in the subsequent film four years later, The Gold Diggers. In 1920s and 1930s American cinema the "gold digger" was the type of femme fatale that gradually replaced the "vamp". The character has featured in many films such as the 1953 How to Marry a Millionaire starring Marilyn Monroe, or as a villainous foil, as in both versions of Disney's film The Parent Trap.


Rap music’s use of the "gold digger script" is one of a few prevalent sexual scripts that is directed at young African American women. For example Kanye West's "Gold Digger" references a woman marrying for perceived wealth.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gold digger" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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