Space professionals have popularized the terms Goldilocks planet & Goldilocks zone to describe planets and regions of space around a star that, like earth, are "just right" to conceivably harbor life.

Are there other popular instances of using "Goldilocks" as an adjective? Can I just attach the word to any noun?

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    You can't use it before another noun and call it an adjective, but you can use it before another noun (carefully chosen so as to make sense) and call it a 'noun modifier', 'noun adjunct' or 'attributive noun'. Then it is a noun behaving like an adjective. Just like 'football' in 'football manager'. But not 'football planet', as far as I know. And 'Goldilocks manager' probably isn't going to work either. Nov 15, 2013 at 16:30
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    What's the 3rd person singular form? Nov 15, 2013 at 16:40
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    @Edwin Ashworth That's easy, 'he, she, it Golidilockses'. What's troubling me is how we translate it into French. I think it goes je boucle d'ors, tu boucle d'ors, il boucle d'ort, nous boucle d'orons. vous boucle d'orez, ils boucle 'd'orent. I'm having troible with the conditional subjunctive however. Any thoughts?
    – WS2
    Nov 15, 2013 at 16:51
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    Most people would agree with OP that 'Goldilocks' is just right. Nov 15, 2013 at 17:24
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    @WS2 I've not heard yet (you could be the first!), but if someone were to describe their garden by saying "...and we had these Jack and the Beanstalk sized broccoli heads this year" I would understand them to mean the broccoli was large. I think we should start a trend of such once upon a time speech!
    – mikeY
    Nov 15, 2013 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


Perhaps this is useful?

Goldilocks Principle

It shows examples in cognitive science, medicine and economics.

Edit: Been noticing this usage since I answered this question. It really is quite widespread. Here is a description of a pocket knife:

It's Goldilocks Knife. It has just enough blades and tools to make it actually useful, while it still feels like a traditional pocket knife.



In the story of the three bears, Goldilocks was choosy about which of three bowls of porridge she ate from (first was too cold, second was too hot, third was just right) which of three chairs she sat in (first too high, second too broad, third just right), and which of three beds to sleep in (too soft, too hard, just right).

Just last week lexicographer Ben Zimmer wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal called "How Goldilocks Moved to Space and the World of Economists" which includes:

  • Goldilocks principle
  • Goldilocks problem
  • Goldilocks planet
  • Goldilocks zone
  • Goldilocks economy
  • Goldilocks theory
  • Goldilocks market

Goldilocks was chosen because a habitable planet is not too close or too far from its star. For example, Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, but Earth is just right.

This is a noun modifier where the noun Goldilocks is acting like an adjective and modifying a noun like planet.

It's probably widespread enough to be added to almost any noun with similar qualities to those listed: one that's not too much this, not too much that, but is just right.

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