Diamond in the Rough

Also: Rough diamond.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Diamond in the Rough’

When we call someone or something ‘a diamond in the rough’ we mean that their good qualities are hidden. The idiom describes a person who is good but is perhaps uncouth, unkempt, rude, socially awkward, etc. With a little work, this person’s good qualities could shine through.


A diamond in the rough is the North American variant of the English idiom rough diamond.

Diamond in the rough idiom meaning

Examples Of Use

“I can’t believe your dating Eddie,” said Christene. “He always looks like he just rolled out of bed.” “You don’t know him like I do,” said Paula. “I always knew he was a diamond in the rough.”

“The new player seemed hopeless at first, but the coach could tell right away that he was a diamond in the rough.”

This rough diamond will be much more beautiful once facets are cut and the diamond is a polished gem, illustrating the figurative meaning of the idiom ‘diamond in the rough.’


rough diamond is a diamond that has not yet been cut and polished. The idiom is based on the fact that when a diamond is rough, you cannot see it’s true beauty. This idiom appeared, in the form of “rough diamond” as early as 1788 in John O’Keefe’s play “The Highland Reel”:

Capt.: Such talents as yours, he here in an obscure corner of the world! Such powers of eloquence! Why, man, you’re a diamond in a quarry.”

McGil: I am a rough diamond…

Capt: I’ll dig you out to shine in London — a feat in Parliament.

More Idioms Starting with D

More Rough Idioms

This page contains one or more affiliate links. See full affiliate disclosure.

YouTube and Facebook Group