Does anyone know what would be an appropriate antonym for gem-like?

That is, a word for something that is not valuable, not beautiful, brilliant, or clear, and may be soft, where a gem is hard.

Edit: We can say gem-like to mean someone with attractive qualities. I was looking for an opposite along that line.

  • 3
    Erm, I think your problem is that "jewel" doesn't have an opposite, unless you count "paste". Can you give some sense of what quality of jewels you're trying to evoke the opposite of?
    – Christi
    Apr 27, 2012 at 20:06
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    People, people, people: not all words have antonyms. It's a fact of English and a fact of life.
    – Robusto
    Apr 27, 2012 at 20:09
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    It depends on context, I suppose. Jewels have a number of distinctive characteristics: hardness, clarity, brilliance, intrinsic value... Change any one of them, and you have the opposite. In chemistry, the flame of a burning gas can be described as "gem-like"; in fact, the phrase is used to describe ignited flatulence. So perhaps the opposite of "jewel-like" is "like an unlit fart"?
    – MT_Head
    Apr 27, 2012 at 20:11
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    As MT_Head points out, without further context this question is impossible to answer. Opposites are defined by context. Man can be the opposite of woman, or the opposite of boy, or the opposite of animal — even though a man is an animal (and not a plant). So, please provide further context, then this question can be reopened. Otherwise the most helpful answer we can offer is jewel-unlike, which is not really helpful at all.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 27, 2012 at 20:19
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    When you say you want the opposite of "someone with attractive qualities", should that mean "someone with a lack of attractive qualities", or "someone with UNattractive (ugly, repellent, repulsive,...) qualities"? Because those two could be very different. Apr 27, 2012 at 21:18

4 Answers 4


I'm going to suggest "banal" as an answer to this question. A banal person would be someone who generally makes one feel worse for time in their company. If you're looking for a word which specifically conveys lack of value, "worthless" is also a possibility.


Rough-like or just plain rough.

a : something in a crude, unfinished, or preliminary state

See also: a diamond in the rough.

EDIT: After reading OP's edits I thought to look up boorish. While that doesn't seem to fit exactly, I thought this synonym discussion on the page was interesting:

boorish, churlish, loutish, clownish mean uncouth in manners or appearance.

boorish implies rudeness of manner due to insensitiveness to others' feelings and unwillingness to be agreeable .

churlish suggests surliness, unresponsiveness, and ungraciousness .

loutish implies bodily awkwardness together with stupidity .

clownish suggests ill-bred awkwardness, ignorance or stupidity, ungainliness, and often a propensity for absurd antics .

  • I would simply use rough – he is a rough character. Course is another good one.
    – zpletan
    Apr 27, 2012 at 21:14
  • I would too upon OP's edits. Apr 27, 2012 at 21:15
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    @zpletan: Did you mean coarse?
    – John Y
    Apr 27, 2012 at 21:18
  • @JohnY, yes, I did mean coarse. Thanks for catching.
    – zpletan
    Apr 27, 2012 at 21:22

I've not heard gem-like used of people, but I assume OP means something akin to she's/he's a gem, which are both common enough. The sense there is that she/he is a valuable person - well worth knowing because they have fine personality traits (not because they have wealth). The "antonym" would thus be someone who isn't worth knowing...

He's a nobody/nothing.

He's a waste of time (or my personal favourite, ...a waste of space).

  • 1
    My favorite is "a waste of carbon", which can be interpreted in several ways; in this context, it could mean "instead of being wasted on your useless carcass, that carbon could have been used to make a diamond!"
    – MT_Head
    Apr 27, 2012 at 21:47
  • When hammered open, the small chest proved to contain sparkling gems, dispersed, almost hidden, among numerous dull greyish chunks of dross. Apr 28, 2012 at 2:24

In the sense that a gem is one who is held in high esteem, regard, or affection, then some antonyms may be: unappealing, unlikable (or disliked), unattractive.

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