rough diamond

a rough diamond
or a diamond in the rough


  • a person of exceptional character
  • a person with great potential but lacking polish and refinement
  • a person who does not seem very polite or well educated at first, although they have a good character
  • a person who has good qualities despite a rough exterior
  • someone or something whose good qualities are hidden
  • a person who is kinder and more amusing than they seem to be from their appearance and behavior

Example Sentences

  1. Bob is intelligent and trustworthy but lacks sophistication. He is a rough diamond.
  2. Mitchell may have been a rough diamond, but he was absolutely loyal to his employer.
  3. Rickey looks a little messy, but he’s a diamond in the rough.
  4. She’s a diamond in the rough – a little hard to take at times, but exquisite and cooperative.
  5. This show is one of those diamonds in the rough, an incredible gem that almost no one has noticed.
  6. Her singing voice is beautiful, but she needs help with her gestures; she’s a rough diamond.
  7. Jack is intelligent and loyal but lacks manners – he’s a rough diamond.


This idiomatic expression is obviously a metaphor for the original unpolished state of diamond gemstones. It comes from the fact that when diamonds are newly mined – that is, before they have been cut and polished – they don’t shine. In fact, they look quite a lot like pebbles and are easily overlooked in their “rough” state.

From this comes the idea that a person can also be like a diamond in the rough or, in the more common idiom, “a rough diamond.” This means a person with rough, uncultivated, or even impolite manners, but at heart is a very good person with excellent qualities. It is more commonly expressed in the form ‘rough diamond’.

The first recorded use in print is in John Fletcher’s, A Wife for a Month (1624):

“She is very honest, and will be as hard to cut as a rough diamond.”


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Idiom of the Day

put your foot in it

Meaning: say something (by mistake) that upsets, humiliates, or embarrasses someone

Example: Carla put her foot right in it when she congratulated her neighbour on being pregnant. It turns out she's not expecting but had just put on weight. Read on


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