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.
verb (used with object), gemmed, gem·ming.
  1. to adorn with or as with gems; begem.
  1. Jewelry. noting perfection or very high quality: gem color; a gem ruby.

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

Synonyms for gem Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gemlike

Historical Examples of gemlike

  • He raised his eyes, and a bitter smile appeared on his gemlike lips.


    Stephen French Whitman

  • Here was a land whose common substance had this gemlike opalescence.


    H. G. Wells

  • Beside her bounded the great cat with shining, gemlike eyes.

    While Caroline Was Growing

    Josephine Daskam Bacon

  • The walls were covered with Eastern hangings, tables of lacquer stood about filled with squat bronzes and gemlike ivory carvings.

    By the Light of the Soul

    Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

  • Gardens of tulips are radiant, and mountain valleys touch the soul with the beauty of their pure and gemlike hues.

    Renaissance in Italy Vol. 3

    John Addington Symonds

British Dictionary definitions for gemlike


  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
verb gems, gemming or gemmed
  1. (tr) to set or ornament with gems
Derived Formsgemlike, adjectivegemmy, adjective

Word Origin for gem

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 gemlike



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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper