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.

to move or sway to and fro or from side to side.
to be moved or swayed powerfully with excitement, emotion, etc.
Mining. (of sand or gravel) to be washed in a cradle.
to dance to or play rock music.
(of popular music) to have the driving beat characteristic of rock.
Slang. to be very good, impressive, exciting, or effective:
This show really rocks.
to move or sway to and fro or from side to side, especially gently and soothingly:
Oh, look! Her big brother is rocking the baby to sleep.
to lull in security, hope, etc.
to affect deeply; stun; move or sway powerfully, as with emotion:
Everyone in the courtroom was rocked by the verdict.
to shake or disturb violently:
A thunderous explosion rocked the waterfront.

to stir up; animate:
We’re gonna rock this joint tonight!
to use, wear, or display in a showy, self-confident manner or to great effect: Only you could rock that hat!
The game rocks some amazing new features.

Graphic Arts. to roughen the surface of (a copperplate) with a rocker preparatory to scraping a mezzotint.
Mining. cradle (def 22).
a rocking movement:
the gentle rock of the boat.
rock-‘n’-roll (def 1).
rock-‘n’-roll (def 2).
rock the boat, Informal. to disrupt the smooth functioning or routine of something:
Don’t rock the boat by demanding special treatment from management.
striped bass.
a male given name.
Contemporary Examples

I was a fan of 30 rock, and you really knocked that role out of the park.
Alec Baldwin Uncensored: On His HBO Doc, Bloomberg, Polanski, and The New York Times Marlow Stern October 21, 2013

Right then we switched to rock portage and charged back down the beach to get the IBS into the water.
Navy Seal Training: The Start of Hell Week Marcus Luttrell, Patrick Robinson May 7, 2011

Tina Fey brought 30 rock down its home stretch with all the wacky dignity one would hope for.
Emmys 2013: Who Should Win Best Actress? Kevin Fallon, Marlow Stern September 18, 2013

The latter misfortune escalated into tragedy after a 21-year-old landed on a rock in precisely the right way to snap her neck.
Fireworks, Lightning, Riding Lawnmowers and Other Summer Menaces Trevor Butterworth July 8, 2013

As long as we’re on the topic of misconceptions, can we retire the tired comparison of Romantic poets to ’60s rock stars?
4 Smart Summer Reads Alexander Nazaryan August 6, 2010

Historical Examples

This rock in the inner crater was gray, pale and ghostly in the earthlight.
The Finding of Haldgren Charles Willard Diffin

On a rock, amid the roaring water, Lies Cassiopea’s gentle daughter.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

Hawk Eye climbed down the rock and gazed silently at the huge body.
Hawk Eye David Cory

Mauburn felt the rock foundations of Manhattan Island to be crumbling to dust.
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson

Pendle, near Clitheroe, where the rock changes to limestone, is 1803.
Lancashire Leo H. (Leo Hartley) Grindon

(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

“stone, mass of mineral matter,” c.1300, from Old English rocc (e.g. stanrocc “stone rock or obelisk”) and directly from Old North French roque, which is cognate with Medieval Latin rocca (8c.), from Vulgar Latin *rocca, of uncertain origin, according to Klein sometimes said to be from Celtic (cf. Breton roch).

In Middle English it seems to have been used principally for rock formations as opposed to individual stones. Meaning “precious stone, especially a diamond,” is 1908, U.S. slang. Meaning “crystallized cocaine” is attested from 1973, in West Coast U.S. slang. Figurative use for “sure foundation” (especially with reference to Christ) is from 1520s; but also from 1520s as “source of danger or destruction,” in reference to shipwrecks (e.g. on the rocks). Also used attributively in names of animals that frequent rocky habitats, e.g. rock lobster (1843). Between a rock and a hard place first attested 1921:

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.

“action of rocking; a movement to and fro,” 1823, from rock (v.1). As short for rock and roll, by 1957; but sense of “musical rhythm characterized by a strong beat” is from 1946, in blues slang. Rock star attested by 1966.

“to sway,” late Old English roccian “move a child gently to and fro,” related to Old Norse rykkja “to pull, tear, move,” Swedish rycka “to pull, pluck,” Middle Dutch rucken, Old High German rucchan, German rücken “to move jerkily.”

Meaning “cause to sway back and forth” is from late 13c. Intransitive sense from late 14c. For popular music senses, see rock (v.2). Related: Rocked; rocking. To rock the boat in the figurative sense “stir up trouble” is from 1914. Rock-a-bye first recorded 1805 in nursery rhyme.

“to dance to popular music with a strong beat,” 1948 (first attested in song title “We’re gonna rock”), from rock (v.1), in earlier blues slang sense of “to cause to move with musical rhythm” (1922); often used at first with sexual overtones (cf. 1922 song title “My Man Rocks Me (with One Steady Roll)”). Sense developed early 1950s to “play or dance to rock and roll music.” Related: Rocked; rocking. Rocksteady, Jamaican pop music style (precursor of reggae), is attested from 1969.

Rock (rŏk), John. 1890-1984.

American gynecologist and obstetrician who helped develop (1954) the first effective oral contraceptive.

A relatively hard, naturally occurring mineral material. Rock can consist of a single mineral or of several minerals that are either tightly compacted or held together by a cementlike mineral matrix. The three main types of rock are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

A piece of such material; a stone.


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+)

Related Terms

acid rock, glitter rock, hard rock, hot rock, punk rock, rim-rock

(Heb. tsur), employed as a symbol of God in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 2:2; 2 Sam. 22:3; Isa. 17:10; Ps. 28:1; 31:2,3; 89:26; 95:1); also in the New Testament (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 9:33; 1 Cor. 10:4). In Dan. 2:45 the Chaldaic form of the Hebrew word is translated “mountain.” It ought to be translated “rock,” as in Hab. 1:12 in the Revised Version. The “rock” from which the stone is cut there signifies the divine origin of Christ. (See STONE.)

rock bottom
rock the boat


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