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Dictionary definition of “Goldilocks”


attrib. connoting moderate characteristics; (specifically) Goldilocks zone, the habitable region of a planet; Goldilocks market, a safe or nonvolatile financial or commodity market. Subjects: , , ,
Etymological Note: From the fable Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in which a young girl finds a series of things (a bed, bowls of porridge) to be too much of one thing or too little of another, until she finds one that is “just right.”
Citations: [1935 Kenneth Crist Los Angeles Times (June 9) “Has the Earth a Corner on Life?” p. H9: You remember Goldilocks…With identical curiosity and startlingly similar conclusions, the astronomer now is sampling the stars for conditions to support life.] 1990 [Fraering Philip] Usenet: (Nov. 19) “Re: Magellan Update—11/16/90”: Comparative geology between Earth, Venus and Mars. And, hopefully, possibly answering questions where climate and geology are interrelated, like the “goldilocks effect” where Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, and the Earth is just right. 1992 [Sheldon Haynie] Usenet: bit.listserv.stat-l (Oct. 29) “Re: A defense of Taguchi”: We tend to use the “goldilocks” approach to selecting variable values:—too small—too big—just right. 1995 Floyd Norris New York Times (Apr. 2) “Goldilocks Settles In, but Will Bears Be Back?” p. 1: The bears scornfully call it the “Goldilocks market,” their way of sneering at the conventional wisdom that the economy will grow just right—not too fast, setting off inflation, and not too slow, damaging corporate profits. 1997 Economist (U.K.) (Jan. 25) “All Possible Worlds”: A planet orbiting a star at the right distance to stay suitably cosy is therefore said by astronomers to be in the star’s “Goldilocks zone”—or, when they are being more serious, the “habitable zone.” 1999 Rick Casey San Antonio Express-News (Texas) (Aug. 15) “Houston has Summit, but no Peak for Spurs” p. 2A: A friend of mine thinks it should be the Goldilocks Arena. We had one that was too small, then one that was too big. 1999 Cyril T. Zaneski (Knight-Ridder) (Aug. 22) “South Florida Scientists Investigate Toxin Poisoning Fish, Wildlife”: This is the hot spot for methylmercury.…You can consider it the Goldilocks area, where sulfides for methylation are “just right.” 2000 Boston Herald (Mass.) (June 3) “Investors ride tech stocks higher”: The economy seems to be getting into the Goldilocks zone of not- too-hot, not-too-cold. 2003 David Feldheim Wall Street Journal (Mar. 13) “Ford’s $2.2 Billion Deal Is Welcomed” p. C13: As a result, he said, there is demand for low-risk, medium short-term obligations, such as the one- to three-year area of the ABS market. That is “the Goldilocks area of the market,” he added. 2006 M.G. Lord Los Angeles Times (Feb. 26) “Rock of ages”: The carbonates, they determined, had indeed originated on Mars and, more astonishing, had formed in what scientists call “the biological Goldilocks zone—not too hot, not too cold, and, conceivably, just right for life to exist.”
Reader comments:

Some scholars also talk about “the Goldilocks principle” of getting things ju…st right. The earliest references that I know are from:

Katz, L., & Raths, J. (1985). A Framework for Research on Teacher Education Programs. Journal of Teacher Education, 36(6), 9-15.


Silverstein, M. (1987). Monoglot “Standard” in America: Standardization and Metaphors of Linguistic Hegemony. Working Papers of the Center for Psychosocial Studies 13.

by Ben Zimmer 10 Mar 06, 0433 GMT

There’s also “The food fits the Goldilocks formula: not too good, not too bad, just right” in The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ont.: Aug 25, 1979. pg. P.7 by Adele Freedman, who used it a number of times in the late 70s and early 80s.
by Brett 26 Nov 07, 0224 GMT

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