noun, plural gems·es [gem-siz, -ziz] /ˈgɛm sɪz, -zɪz/.

Also gem·se [gem-zuh] /ˈgɛm zə/.

Origin of gems

< German; Old High German gamiza < Late Latin camoc- (stem of camox)




a cut and polished precious stone or pearl fine enough for use in jewelry.
something likened to or prized as such a stone because of its beauty or worth: His painting was the gem of the collection.
a person held in great esteem or affection.
British Printing. a 4-point type of a size between brilliant and diamond.

verb (used with object), gemmed, gem·ming.

to adorn with or as with gems; begem.


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 gems

Contemporary Examples of gems

Historical Examples of gems

  • While I have gathered foreign jewels, I have been ignorant of the gems in my own family.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • He was prepared to meet dazzling wonders of gems or priceless metal.

    Salvage in Space

    John Stewart Williamson

  • Her camorra, too, was open, and in her girdle there were gems for all to see.

    The Shame of Motley

    Raphael Sabatini

  • His boots were of black velvet, laced with gold thread that was studded with gems.

  • To have refused would have been to confess that I did not appreciate his "gems" as he called them.

British Dictionary definitions for gems



a precious or semiprecious stone used in jewellery as a decoration; jewel
a person or thing held to be a perfect example; treasure
a size of printer's type, approximately equal to 4 point
NZ a type of small sweet cake

verb gems, gemming or gemmed

(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 gems



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