Definition of rock in English:



  • 1Move gently to and fro or from side to side.

    with object ‘she rocked the baby in her arms’
    no object ‘the vase rocked back and forth on its base’
    • ‘Some women started cooking meal under trees while some others gently rocked makeshift cradles hanging from tree branches.’
    • ‘As he cuddles his teddy bear, she rocks him to sleep.’
    • ‘The floor seemed to be pitching, like a boat rocked by waves.’
    • ‘I think I spent a week in a row rocking him to sleep, just speaking it over.’
    • ‘He rocked his body at the mike, rolled his eyes, pulled back his lips in elegant disdain, and finished each sentence with a sensual guttural trail.’
    • ‘As of this week, he no longer wants to be rocked to sleep.’
    • ‘I guess you just get use to being rocked to sleep every night.’
    • ‘She rocked herself to and fro, and the tears gathered in her eyes and slowly trickled down her cheeks.’
    move to and fro, move backwards and forwards, move back and forth, sway, swing, see-saw
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    1. 1.1 (with reference to a building or region) shake or cause to shake or vibrate, especially because of an impact, earthquake, or explosion.
      with object ‘minutes later a second blast rocked the city’
      no object ‘the building began to rock on its foundations’
      • ‘He is awake in the middle of the night and he feels as if the hotel is being rocked by an earthquake.’
      • ‘Both films take place in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that rocked northern Iran in 1990, killing nearly 50,000 people.’
      • ‘Situated in a sensitive seismic zone, the country has been rocked by many earthquakes.’
      • ‘Then the entire world was rocked by a massive earthquake, which killed more than half the population.’
      • ‘An explosion rocks downtown London and shuts down the city.’
      • ‘Brimstone's ship was violently rocked by the explosions, but still managed to maintain their shields.’
      • ‘For the second day, a suicide blast rocked the city of Tal Afar.’
      • ‘Just then, the ship was rocked by an explosion.’
      shake, vibrate, quake, tremble
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    2. 1.2with object Cause great shock or distress to (someone or something), especially so as to weaken or destabilize.
      ‘diplomatic upheavals that rocked the British Empire’
      • ‘Particularly good though is Basinger as a mother wanting more from a wounded marriage, rocked by the memory of a painful incident.’
      • ‘In the past two months, the fund industry has been rocked by allegations of ethical lapses.’
      • ‘For the year 2001, the company was ranked as the 6th largest corporation in the world, but before the year was out, it was rocked by scandal and filed for bankruptcy.’
      • ‘One young girl knows secrets that could rock this union to its core, and she's on the run.’
      • ‘In 1839, the seeds of the civil rights earthquake that would rock the United States were sprinkled on a Spanish schooner named La Amistad.’
      • ‘The international tennis scene has been rocked by a series of drug stories.’
      • ‘It rocks her contented world to its foundations when she discovers that her husband is having an affair.’
      • ‘Merciless in its intensity, uncompromising in its brutality, this film will rock you to your core.’
      • ‘Boudu rocks the household to its foundation with boorish behavior and manners befitting a beast.’
      • ‘In 1974, when the Watergate revelations were rocking the presidency, the would-be assassin went over the edge.’
      • ‘Mary's perfect little world is about to be rocked in a serious way.’
      • ‘The film doesn't seem like much - just an odd little love story, not anything you would expect to rock your world.’
      • ‘But our island's towns and cities have been rocked by their own lesser-known scandals.’
      • ‘When tumultuous events rocked the world he soon forgot her.’
      • ‘Corporate scandals have recently rocked the business world, shocked shareholders and the public at large, and led to the downfall of several large-scale firms.’
      • ‘This incident rocked the Canadian province of Newfoundland.’
      • ‘All this took place in Cincinnati which was rocked by riots and violent protests in the preceding weeks.’
      • ‘Your utter disregard for everything that is good and decent has rocked the very foundation upon which our society is built.’
      • ‘But even though my atheism was not rocked during the writing of Quarantine, it was changed.’
      • ‘After initially taking the moral ground, Johnny finds the tables turning, and his own sense of self being rocked as he is forced to confront his past.’
      stun, shock, stagger, astound, astonish, amaze, startle, surprise, dumbfound, daze, shake, shake up, set someone back on their heels, take aback, throw, unnerve, disconcert
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  • 2informal no object Dance to or play rock music.

    ‘he looked a totally different man and ready to rock’
    • ‘Despite the odd venue choice, Billy Corgan and his openers still rocked out.’
    • ‘In this case, the screen was bigger, the score was louder and the crowd was rocking.’
    • ‘These guys knew how to rock - and did so for nearly two hours!’
    • ‘While my musical strength may be in the Classical realm, I also know that Little Richard really rocked in his day.’
    • ‘Each of these rhythm and blues legends had the hall rocking to the sounds of the Sixties.’
    • ‘If the crowd is not rocking to this one beat, you gotta get it out and get the next record in.’
    • ‘Dewey drinks hard, sleeps late, plays gigs in dingy clubs and, most importantly, loves to rock.’
    • ‘The focus of the film isn't so much that this guy teaches kids how to rock as it about how he teaches them to rock.’
    • ‘Whatever may happen in the future, the band are rocking hard in the present.’
    1. 2.1 (of a place) be exciting or full of social activity.
      ‘the new town really rocks’
    2. 2.2 Be very good or pleasing.
      ‘this is when the job really rocks’
      • ‘" The typical comment is, ' Dude, you rock!, '’
      • ‘And you will see why he rocks.’
      • ‘I don't know but, either way, they rock.’
      • ‘I just recently played "House Of Flying Daggers" and it rocked!’
      • ‘The video tells the story of the band and it rocks!’
      • ‘Because they rocked and we wished we could have stayed longer.’
  • 3informal with object Wear (a garment) or affect (an attitude or style), especially in a confident or flamboyant way.

    ‘she was rocking a clingy little leopard-skin number’

Phrasal Verbs

  • rock out

    • Perform rock music loudly and vigorously.

      ‘the Waterboys rock out fiercely in one of the most anthemic tracks the band has recorded’
      • ‘He never really came close to rocking out with conviction over the past 20-plus years like he did at the start of his career - until now.’
      • ‘When they aren't rocking out, the band do what they can to encourage their fans to become politically aware and get out to the voting polls.’
      • ‘The self-confident singer rocked out, freestyled with natural ease and steamed up the room with poetry and poise and an intense, extended version of ‘Sun Again.’’
      • ‘The vocalist speaks rather than sings, and the band rocks out more than it has in the past.’
      • ‘Performing a variety of songs from all three albums, the band rocked out on a dynamic rollercoaster that ranged from the softest melodies to pounding virtual thrash metal.’
      • ‘The Canadian guitar god should have been dressed in a schoolboy uniform as he rocked out like AC/DC throughout the performance.’
      • ‘With just a square black stage and some colourful lights, it almost felt like the group were rocking out at their local bar - except for the thousands of screaming hordes.’
      • ‘For whatever reason, I believe band possesses this propensity for rocking out.’
      • ‘Merely watching the two beautiful females in the group rock out is enough.’
      • ‘They rock out with unexpected intensity, but the song ends quickly, leaving the listener hoping for the band to flex their rock muscles a bit more.’
  • rock up

    • Arrive; turn up.

      ‘they rocked up at about 2.00 p.m’
      • ‘I rocked up to head office in Dunedin and said I'd like to be a nurse.’
      • ‘It wasn't a ghost that rocked up at the Veterinary Clinic in Selborne, 10 days ago.’
      • ‘Shovell fans out there in user land keep rocking up.’
      • ‘I was not surprised when Suede rocked up ripping off Bowie.’
      • ‘Yesterday, the father that I had never seen in ten years rocks up and wants me to become a part of the mafia.’
      • ‘They were not getting any support from the police who almost always ‘only rocked up when someone had already died’.’
      • ‘Then Anthony and Lance rocked up with a bottle of Cointreau.’
      • ‘Oh, yeah, and can you see me rocking up to school like this?’
      • ‘The police, who rocked up much later, say the matter is regarded as a ‘disturbance’.’
      • ‘Do you really think that the brave old blokes from the 28th Maori Battalion who defended Crete would appreciate people this like rocking up to a dawn service?’
      • ‘I am planning on rocking up to a few theatres at the 6.30 mark and seeing whether there are stand by ticket for anything I'm interested in seeing.’
      • ‘I've been living abroad for three years now but when I lived in Melbourne this was the only place I rocked up to on a Sunday.’
      • ‘I do, however, have visions of him rocking up on my doorstep and that thought mostly horrifies me.’
      • ‘On Saturday morning, about 4000 squatters rocked up at a piece of land in the Bredell area in South Africa's industrial heartland, the Gauteng province.’
      • ‘The crew usually called before they just rocked up.’
      • ‘I slid into the seat, all too aware of the fact that all conversation had died the second I'd rocked up to the table.’
      • ‘The basic premise is that the band rocks up in an unlikely spot and plays furiously until they are evicted.’
      • ‘Terrance rocked up not much later and not long after that we left.’


Late Old English roccian, probably from a Germanic base meaning ‘remove, move’; related to Dutch rukken ‘jerk, tug’ and German rücken ‘move’. The noun dates from the early 19th century.