Between a rock and a hard place

a large mass of stone forming a hill, cliff, promontory, or the like.

mineral matter of variable composition, consolidated or unconsolidated, assembled in masses or considerable quantities in nature, as by the action of heat or water.
a particular kind of such matter:
igneous rock.

stone in the mass:
buildings that stand upon rock.
a stone of any size.
something resembling or suggesting a rock.
a firm foundation or support:
The Lord is my rock.
Chiefly British. a kind of hard candy, variously flavored.
rock candy.
Often, rocks. Slang.

a piece of money.
a dollar bill.


a diamond.
any gem.


crack (def 41).
a pellet or lump of crack.

between a rock and a hard place, between undesirable alternatives.
get one’s rocks off, Slang: Vulgar. to have an orgasm.
on the rocks,

Informal. in or into a state of disaster or ruin:
Their marriage is on the rocks.
Informal. without funds; destitute; bankrupt.
(of a beverage, especially liquor or a cocktail) with, or containing, ice cubes:
Scotch on the rocks; a vodka martini on the rocks.

(geology) any aggregate of minerals that makes up part of the earth’s crust. It may be unconsolidated, such as a sand, clay, or mud, or consolidated, such as granite, limestone, or coal See also igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic
any hard mass of consolidated mineral matter, such as a boulder
(mainly US & Canadian, Austral) a stone
a person or thing suggesting a rock, esp in being dependable, unchanging, or providing firm foundation
(Brit) a hard sweet, typically a long brightly-coloured peppermint-flavoured stick, sold esp in holiday resorts
(slang) a jewel, esp a diamond
short for rock salmon
(pl) (slang) the testicles
(slang) another name for crack (sense 29)
between a rock and a hard place, having to choose between two equally unpleasant alternatives
on the rocks

in a state of ruin or destitution
(of drinks, esp whisky) served with ice

to move or cause to move from side to side or backwards and forwards
to reel or sway or cause (someone) to reel or sway, as with a violent shock or emotion
(transitive) to shake or move (something) violently
(intransitive) to dance in the rock-and-roll style
(mining) to wash (ore) or (of ore) to be washed in a cradle
(transitive) to roughen (a copper plate) with a rocker before engraving a mezzotint
(transitive) (slang, mainly US) to impress by wearing (an item of clothing) or playing (a musical instrument): She can still rock a miniskirt, He rocks a guitar like nobody’s business
(informal) rock the boat, to create a disturbance in the existing situation
a rocking motion
short for rock and roll
Also called rock music. any of various styles of pop music having a heavy beat, derived from rock and roll
noun the Rock
an informal name for Gibraltar
a Canadian informal name for Newfoundland

to be between a rock and a hard place, vb. ph. To be bankrupt. Common in Arizona in recent panics; sporadic in California. [“Dialect Notes,” vol. V, part iv, 1921]

Rock-ribbed is from 1776, originally of land; figurative sense of “resolute” first recorded 1887. Rock-happy (1945) was U.S. Pacific Theater armed forces slang for “mentally unhinged after too much time on one island.” The rock-scissors-paper game is attested by that name from 1976; from 1968 as paper-stone-scissors. A 1967 source says it is based on Japanese Jan Ken Pon (or Janken for short), which is said to mean the same thing more or less.

A dollar; buck: I want to see you make twenty rocks (1840+)
Any precious stone, esp a diamond (1908+ Underworld)
A rock-and-roll devotee: teenagers called ”rocks” (1950s+)
Rock-and-roll music: hard rock (1950s+)
A small cube of very pure cocaine, intended for smoking rather than inhalation: Dealers sell pellet-size ”rocks” in small plastic vials (1980s+ Narcotics)
A cellblock: When is the wagon due back on this rock, Pops? (1970s+ Prison)
A basketball (1980s+ Basketball)

To do the sex act with or to; screw, ride: My man rocks me with one steady roll (1900+)
To move, dance, writhe, etc, to rock-and-roll music; boogie, bop: Soon just one couple was rocking in the middle of the floor (1950s+)
To be resonant with and physically responsive to rockand-roll music; jump: Soon the whole room was rocking (1950s+)

Also, between the devil and the deep blue sea or Scylla and Charybdis. Between two equally difficult or unacceptable choices. For example, Trying to please both my boss and his supervisor puts me between a rock and a hard place. The rock and hard place version is the newest of these synonymous phrases, dating from the early 1900s, and alludes to being caught or crushed between two rocks. The oldest is Scylla and Charybdis, which in Homer’s Odyssey signified a monster on a rock (Scylla) and a fatal whirlpool (Charybdis), between which Odysseus had to sail through a narrow passage. It was used figuratively by the Roman writer Virgil and many writers since. The devil in devil and deep blue sea, according to lexicographer Charles Earle Funk, referred to a seam around a ship’s hull near the waterline, which, if a sailor was trying to caulk it in heavy seas, would cause him to fall overboard. Others disagree, however, and believe the phrase simply alludes to a choice between hellfire with the devil and drowning in deep waters.

rock bottom
rock the boat


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