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Answer could be a noun or an adjective. I've searched https://www.powerthesaurus.org/hidden_value/synonyms and the results are things like "hidden beauty", "hidden treasure". "Secret worth" or "stealth value" get into the right territory but is there one word? Could be in English or another language.

The answer I'm looking for would have a positive connotation and, ideally, could be applied to a person or other living being, but could apply to an object. Something overlooked or maybe even disdained but only bc its value is hidden. Maybe like how computer programmers were thought of sort of disdainfully until their skills and approach became prized.

Used in a sentence:

She had been overlooked so many times in her life, but this time she realized her interest in programming was a ______ quality that would finally be appreciated.

Used in a sentence:

Only she was able to see the ____ for what it was.

Used in a sentence:

Her heart beat faster as she realized she had found a _____ [or a _____ ingredient] -- in this case in the form of the rare butterfly that would provide the critical ingredient for the vaccine.

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2 Answers 2

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I think you might be looking for something like the idiom hidden gem:

That which is of exceptional or underappreciated quality but is not especially popular or widely known.
Source: The Free Dictionary

So . . .

Her interest in programming was a hidden gem that would finally be appreciated.

Only she was able to see the hidden gem for what it was.

She had found a hidden gem — in this case in the form of the rare butterfly.

You could also try the adjectives underrated or overlooked . . .

Her interest in programming was an overlooked/underrated quality that would finally be appreciated.

Only she was able to see the overlooked/underrated* for what it was.

She had found an overlooked/underrated ingredient — in this case in the form of the rare butterfly.

* One-word bonus: that’s a nominalized adjective. (Is it noun? Is it an adjective? No, it’s a . . .)

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  • Yes this is hitting it. Still not one word. But thank you. Overlooked and underrated are also right. Helps to convince me that there isn't really one word for this. Interesting. Feb 18, 2023 at 5:44
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When describing a person, you could call them a diamond in the rough. The Free Dictionary defines this as:

A person or thing with exceptional qualities or characteristics that cannot be seen from the surface.

Or as:

An individual of intrinsic merit but uncultivated manners. The simile comes from mining, where the uncut, unpolished diamond resembles a hunk of worthless rock but may, after processing, be both beautiful and very valuable. John Fletcher’s 1624 play, A Wife for a Month, has it, “She is very honest, and will be hard to cut as a rough diamond” (4.2).

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  • That is excellent. Just the kind of thing I'm looking for. Thank you. But in one word. I'm trying to even think of an object, like a diamond in the rough, that can be named in one word, and it would convey the meaning of "diamond in the rough" but perhaps without the connotations that it needs to be improved before being valuable. It's already fine just the way it is. Feb 18, 2023 at 4:34

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