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diamond in the rough

A person or thing with exceptional qualities or characteristics that cannot be seen from the surface. The new employee initially seemed to lack confidence, but after seeing how hard he works, we realized that he's a diamond in the rough and is really a great asset to the company.
See also: diamond, rough

rough diamond

Someone or something that is unrefined but has many exceptional aspects or underlying potential. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. The young actor was a rough diamond. With some training, she'd become a superstar.
See also: diamond, rough

diamond in the rough

Fig. a person who has good qualities despite a rough exterior; a person with great potential. Sam looks a little scruffy, but he's a diamond in the rough. He's a diamond in the rough—a little hard to take at times, but very smart and helpful.
See also: diamond, rough

diamond in the rough

Also, a rough diamond. A person of exceptional character or potential but lacking polish and refinement. For example, Jack is intelligent and trustworthy but lacks manners-he's a diamond in the rough. [Early 1600s]
See also: diamond, rough

a rough diamond

mainly BRITISH or

a diamond in the rough

AMERICAN
1. If you call someone, especially a man a rough diamond, you admire their good qualities, even though they are not very polite or well-educated. Note: A rough diamond is a diamond that has not yet been cut and polished. Marden was the rough diamond of the three, feared for his ruthlessness but respected for his First World War Military Cross. I liked Neil Murphy, who is somewhat of a diamond in the rough.
2. If you call someone or something a rough diamond, you mean that they have talent or good qualities which are hidden or not well developed and could be developed more. Note: A rough diamond is a diamond that has not yet been cut and polished. British first novels are more likely to be rough diamonds, with flashes of inspiration in an imperfect whole. When I heard this lady sing, I ran to the theater, and I said, `Chick, I found myself a diamond in the rough.'
See also: diamond, rough

diamond cut diamond

a situation in which a sharp-witted or cunning person meets their match. British
1863 Charles Reade Hard Cash He felt…sure his employer would outwit him if he could; and resolved it should be diamond cut diamond.
See also: cut, diamond

a rough diamond

a person who has genuinely fine qualities but uncouth manners. informal
Literally, a rough diamond is a diamond before it has been cut and polished. A North American variant of this expression is a diamond in the rough .
See also: diamond, rough

a ˌrough ˈdiamond

(British English) (American English a ˌdiamond in the ˈrough) a person who has many good qualities even though they do not seem to be very polite, educated, etc: Don’t be put off by your first impressions — he’s something of a rough diamond.
A rough diamond is a diamond that has not yet been cut or polished.
See also: diamond, rough

diamond in the rough

n. a person who is wonderful despite a rough exterior; a person with great potential. He’s a diamond in the rough—a little hard to take at times, but okay mostly.
See also: diamond, rough

diamond in the rough

One having exceptionally good qualities or the potential for greatness but lacking polish and refinement.
See also: diamond, rough

diamond in the rough

A basically admirable person who is full of potential, but lacks the social graces. The image is that of a raw gemstone that, once cut and polished, will shine.
See also: diamond, rough
References in classic literature ?
On the day after the morrow, by eleven o'clock, the two diamond studs were finished, and they were so completely imitated, so perfectly alike, that Buckingham could not tell the new ones from the old ones, and experts in such matters would have been deceived as he was.
Then I said good-night and turned in, and dreamt about poor long-dead Silvestre and the diamonds.
Ah, well,' he said, 'that is where Solomon really had his mines, his diamond mines, I mean.
Well, I laughed at this story at the time, though it interested me, for the Diamond Fields were not discovered then, but poor Evans went off and was killed, and for twenty years I never thought any more of the matter.
But the first thing I find in that disused pocket is this: that men who mean to steal diamonds don't talk Socialism.
And now, by the way, you might give me back those diamonds.
Three flashing diamonds fell from the tree to the turf.
As he bowed over her he smiled, and quoted the hackneyed and beautiful lines from The Rape of the Lock about Belinda's diamonds, "which Jews might kiss and infidels adore.
Bute said to her eldest girl (who, on the contrary, was a very swarthy, short, and snub-nosed young lady), "You might have had superb diamonds forsooth, and have been presented at Court by your cousin, the Lady Jane.
We saw Rosenthall come out--saw the glimmer of his diamonds before anything.
My eyes had torn themselves from the round black muzzles, from the accursed diamonds that had been our snare, the pasty pig-face of the over-fed pugilist, and the flaming cheeks and hook nose of Rosenthall himself.
And that diamond," cried Caderousse, almost breathless with eager admiration, "you say, is worth fifty thousand francs?
My first business will be to dispose of this diamond.
The deity breathed the breath of his divinity on the Diamond in the forehead of the god.
The Diamond fell into the possession of Tippoo, Sultan of Seringapatam, who caused it to be placed as an ornament in the handle of a dagger, and who commanded it to be kept among the choicest treasures of his armoury.