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See more synonyms for gem on Thesaurus.com
  1. a cut and polished precious stone or pearl fine enough for use in jewelry.
  2. something likened to or prized as such a stone because of its beauty or worth: His painting was the gem of the collection.
  3. a person held in great esteem or affection.
  4. muffin(def 1).
  5. British Printing. a 4-point type of a size between brilliant and diamond.
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verb (used with object), gemmed, gem·ming.
  1. to adorn with or as with gems; begem.
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  1. Jewelry. noting perfection or very high quality: gem color; a gem ruby.
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Origin of gem

1275–1325; Middle English gemme < Old French < Latin gemma bud, jewel; replacing Middle English yimme, Old English gim(m) < Latin
Related formsgem·less, adjectivegem·like, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for gem

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • My young travelling companion is enthusiastic about this gem of Germany.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • Since such gift the gem gleamed bright on the breast of the queen.



  • This production is a gem, and always attracts the wonder and amazement of foreigners.

  • Holding toward the lamp a glass, clear as crystal, with luster like a gem.

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • By the way, your editorial explanation of Astounding Stories was a gem.

British Dictionary definitions for gem


  1. a precious or semiprecious stone used in jewellery as a decoration; jewel
  2. a person or thing held to be a perfect example; treasure
  3. a size of printer's type, approximately equal to 4 point
  4. NZ a type of small sweet cake
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verb gems, gemming or gemmed
  1. (tr) to set or ornament with gems
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Derived Formsgemlike, adjectivegemmy, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French gemme, from Latin gemma bud, precious stone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for gem


Old English gimm "precious stone, gem, jewel," also "eye," from Latin gemma "precious stone, jewel," originally "bud," perhaps from the root *gen- "to produce," or from PIE *gembh- "tooth, nail." Of persons, from late 13c. Forms in -i-, -y- were lost early 14c., and the modern form of the word probably representing a Middle English borrowing from Old French gemme (12c.). As a verb, from c.1600, "to adorn with gems;" mid-12c. as "to bud."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper