Main definitions of rock in US English:

: rock1rock2



  • 1The solid mineral material forming part of the surface of the earth and other similar planets, exposed on the surface or underlying the soil or oceans.

    • ‘Sulfates are a combination of sulfur and oxygen and are a part of naturally occurring minerals in some soil and rock formations that contain groundwater.’
    • ‘The columns and roofs were sized and shaped to recall the trees and canopies of pine forests, while the concrete block base represents rock outcroppings.’
    • ‘I have an aesthetic appreciation of rock as a geologist, and in turn people should be persuaded that geology is part and parcel of any appreciation of the world around us.’
    • ‘Lighter than the surrounding solid rock, this liquid magma rises, cools, and crystallizes beneath Earth's surface.’
    • ‘Developed coastlines are often armored with concrete and rock structures to prevent property losses associated with shoreline erosion.’
    • ‘Groundwater will contain the minerals dissolved as the water moves through soil and rock materials.’
    • ‘With its stepped projections and striations of garbage and wood, this baroque construction evoked a geological formation of layered rock and sediment.’
    • ‘The theater is a cavernous space, seemingly carved from a solid mass of desert rock, like Petra, in Jordan.’
    • ‘The varnish produces variegated earth tones on rock, concrete, and metal surfaces.’
    • ‘Look into the hole dug into the earth for a future car park nearby and you will see that the street elevation is derived from the natural, shattered, fragmented pattern of the rock in the earth.’
    • ‘Fields curve around jumbled outcroppings, huge chunks of fragmented rock appearing in time to halt a tractor before it barely reaches working speed.’
    • ‘The rest of the men waited on a piece of rock inhabited by penguins, seals, and ice in the hope of their captain's return.’
    • ‘Vertical-slotted pipes made of plastic are installed and surrounded by porous rock, which acts as a moisture barrier.’
    • ‘Juxtapositions of rock and mineral make obvious reference to the powerful composition and structure of the Iceland landscape.’
    • ‘Ground and polished, it can reveal a subtle, colored matrix of gradated sands and rock, such as you might find along the edge of a stream bed.’
    • ‘It is apparent that this is a rich man's tomb, carefully carved out of solid rock.’
    • ‘The new works are spindlier than their predecessors and combine the pieces of rock and branch in unlikely ways, rather then following a naturalistic schema.’
    • ‘As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution.’
    • ‘Groundwater is water that lies below the soil surface and fills the pore spaces in and around rock, sand, gravel, and other materials.’
    • ‘From the tectonic plates we see how volcanoes and earthquakes form, and how the earth recycles the air, water, and even base rock on a daily basis.’
    1. 1.1 A mass of rock projecting above the earth's surface or out of the sea.
      ‘there are dangerous rocks around the island’
      • ‘The rocky coastline is a near monochrome of pale blues that darken in the rocks and billowing clouds as though illuminated by moonlight.’
      • ‘Effectively, the rock is left exposed in its geological location, but cut free from its surround.’
      • ‘At the centre of the building is a courtyard; in fact, the original patch of trees, rocks and earth that was here from the very start.’
      • ‘Uppermost Permian and Triassic terrestrial sediments conformably overlie the terminal volcanic rocks.’
      • ‘Huge rocks jutted out of the ground, with no clear trail across it.’
      • ‘More than half of Mandela's sentence was spent on Robben Island, a windswept rock surrounded by the treacherous seas of the Cape of Good Hope.’
      • ‘Stone was sourced from a local quarry where it is still possible to scramble around and observe a handful of small stelae, partially carved, but not quite freed from the mass of the rock.’
      • ‘Jagged rocks jutted out from both sides of the canyon.’
      • ‘On the highest part of the rock on which the old city of Toledo is founded is the conventual church of San Marcos.’
      • ‘He turned the movie's sets into an illustration of Inuit thrift and ingenuity, played against ice massifs, snowy rivers, a wide ocean, and lowland rocks covered in moss.’
      • ‘I went out into this absolutely beautiful country, the beautiful red soil, the rugged red rocks above the hills, and it just blew my mind.’
      • ‘‘The boat can crash into the rocks and still float, because of the plasticity of the skin,’ he says.’
      • ‘Those who were not sold quickly were carried down to the rocks where the sea breaks, forced into dinghies, and rowed out to waiting ships.’
      • ‘Of course they have to break out of jail, and the posse who is hot on their tail gets turned back by a sniper in the rocks above.’
      • ‘One had to earn the right to surf beneath the dangerous pier, with it's exhilarating waves and threatening jagged rocks.’
      • ‘Pavers surround a rock that is left to emerge from the floor.’
      • ‘The inn is actually a front for illegal operations involving the luring of ships onto the coastal rocks where the crews are murdered and the ships' cargoes can be plundered.’
      • ‘Helen makes her way to Skerray, a tiny crofting community whose name translates as ‘between the rocks and the sea’.’
      • ‘Swimming was difficult and dangerous due to the heavy waves and jagged rocks, so Pinos adapted existing breakwater structures to enclose two new bays for protected bathing.’
      • ‘He decides on Fiona, who is prisoner in a castle on a rock, surrounded by molten lava and guarded by a fierce dragon.’
      crag, cliff, tor, outcrop, outcropping
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Geology Any natural material, hard or soft (e.g. clay), having a distinctive mineral composition.
      • ‘Karst landscapes are developed wherever soluble carbonate rocks outcrop and where surplus rainfall is available to dissolve the limestone.’
      • ‘The cave offers an in-depth view of the immense layers of limestone rock formed by the sedimented shells.’
      • ‘Dolomite, a calcium magnesium carbonate rock, can be found beneath the soil surface.’
      • ‘The granite fines were a by-product of crushing syenite granite rock.’
      • ‘A main types of mineral phosphate, soft rock phosphate comes mostly from ancient sea deposits.’
    3. 1.3 Gibraltar.
    4. 1.4Canadian informal
      a name for Newfoundland
  • 2A large piece of rock which has become detached from a cliff or mountain; a boulder.

    ‘the stream flowed through a jumble of rocks’
    • ‘Watch for the scene where Sid is trying to get comfortable on a rock - he flops around, contorting his body into every possible shape.’
    • ‘The ‘Stone fish’ has a deadly poison which paralyses you and they look just like stones so can be camouflaged amongst the rocks.’
    • ‘Geometric shapes, classical columns, shrines and sets of zigzagging stairs are combined with stylized landscape elements, such as rocks, a river, fields and mountains.’
    • ‘In order to trap him forever, the landowner pulls a rock, the size of a small car, over the cave mouth.’
    • ‘With a free afternoon ahead, I hiked a quarter mile from Chopta, sat down on a large rock, and watched the sun descend in the West toward snow-capped peaks, a huge red ball sliding behind dense gray clouds.’
    • ‘It crosses multiple blocks and is lush with trees, flowers, lawns, cliffs, streams, waterfalls, ponds, clusters of rocks, and outdoor terraces.’
    • ‘They decipher traces of ancient Platyhelminthe movement in the California mountains, on rocks that are over half a billion years old.’
    • ‘If you hit a big rock, just feel your way around it, but don't lose your sense of direction.’
    • ‘He too loves the way the light plays upon the crags and faces of the rocks but Roland has another relationship with the mountain, he is call out co-ordinator for the mountain search and rescue dogs.’
    • ‘Lane advances toward Mrs. Lowe's hiding place and she begins shooting wildly, one bullet after another, even after Lane takes cover behind a rock.’
    • ‘Should he have intervened, therefore preventing David's death, or did he do the right thing by just staying behind the rocks?’
    • ‘The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight.’
    • ‘A slightly uneven surface is studded with irregular mossy rocks and covered with the northern European forest mixture of grass and creeping shrubs like bilberry.’
    • ‘I loved the endless hours I spent splashing in streams, eating blackberries off the bush, catching trout, walking the woods, sunning on rocks, listening to banjos and dulcimers.’
    • ‘They rolled over and over in the tumbling water, then finally surfaced downstream, away from the rocks - and far, far from the distantly barking pack of dogs.’
    • ‘It was so clearly identifiable as his work from the outset that I kept expecting either Ricardo Montalban or Kate Winslet to pop out from behind a rock.’
    • ‘We are presented with abstract patterns of black and gray with flashes of white that only with time begin to coalesce into an image of water rippling over well-worn rocks on the riverbed.’
    • ‘He lies on a rock, a mountain looming above him and his naked body partially covered by a white dress.’
    1. 2.1North American A stone of any size, especially one small enough to be picked up and used as a projectile.
      • ‘She shot small rocks on the beach from above at the time of day when the sun casts long shadows.’
      • ‘I get the feeling I couldn't throw a rock without hitting a Baldwin.’
      • ‘In some instances, especially in the war zones, rocks were thrown at the screens.’
      • ‘At her house, he gets the attention of her bouncer by throwing a rock.’
      • ‘If an animal threatened to get out of place, a hiss or a shout or a well-aimed rock would turn it back where it belonged, but such measures were not often necessary.’
      • ‘Alex kicked another rock in front of her and nodded.’
      • ‘My brother and I would pretend fight, I'd be knocked down, and then I'd roll down the hill while bumping against tiny rocks and other imperfections peppering the slide.’
      • ‘He kicked a small rock on the ground to the other side of the path.’
      • ‘What Aranoa does is pick up that rock and show the teeming life underneath.’
      • ‘I just want to be old and nasty and live alone and throw rocks at neighborhood dogs.’
      • ‘You saw the scene with the kids throwing rocks at us.’
      • ‘Tiger also faced abuse at the hands of grade school classmates, who once even tied him to a tree and threw rocks at him.’
      • ‘The film has one of cinema's most beautiful uses of an open exterior, when the husband throws a rock towards the nuclear plant just after dusk.’
      • ‘If you must ripple the pond, throw a small rock first and pay careful attention.’
      • ‘Upon rushing upstairs I discovered he had thrown a rock through my window.’
      • ‘Because it was big and strong, people ran from it or threw rocks at it or chased it around, waving torches.’
      • ‘Outdoors, a lone malcontent teenage girl lurks and throws rocks in the dark.’
      • ‘A switchback ramp scales a battered wall of rough granite blocks and you wonder if defenders will appear on the ramparts above and drive you off with rocks.’
      • ‘He threw rocks through their living window and claimed they were being attacked.’
      • ‘He and his friend throw rocks at each other and walk out of town.’
      boulder, stone
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2British A kind of hard confectionery in the form of cylindrical peppermint-flavored sticks.
    3. 2.3informal A precious stone, especially a diamond.
      • ‘Instead of working with flashy, expensive rocks, he preferred to use semiprecious stones - and his wits.’
      • ‘It's like a trip through a jewelry store that sells nothing but pricey diamond rings with big rocks.’
      diamond, precious stone, jewel
      View synonyms
    4. 2.4informal A small piece of crack cocaine.
    5. 2.5rocksvulgar slang Testicles.
  • 3Used to refer to someone or something that is extremely strong, reliable, or hard.

    ‘imagining himself as the last rock of civilization being swept over by a wave of barbarism’
    • ‘Mia really has become the rock in this world, his key to becoming a better man.’
    • ‘It was only sprung on us in the sense that at any point, we could have said ‘no’ and faced the rock that was our boss.’
    foundation, cornerstone, support, prop, mainstay, backbone
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1usually rocks (especially with allusion to shipwrecks) a source of danger or destruction.
      ‘the new system is heading for the rocks’
      • ‘While his willingness to explore the darker side of marriage makes his movie more perceptive than many others, the film loses its way when love hits the rocks.’
      in difficulty, in trouble, breaking down, practically over, heading for divorce, heading for the divorce courts
      View synonyms
  • 4rocksUS dated, informal Money.


  • between a rock and a hard place

    • informal In a situation where one is faced with two equally difficult alternatives.

      • ‘Seeger, like many artists and writers on the left during the Twenties and Thirties, found herself between a rock and a hard place.’
      • ‘The Utah Senator finds himself trapped painfully between a rock and a hard place.’
      • ‘As we will see, when it comes to inflation, the federal reserve is caught between a rock and a hard place.’
      • ‘With the mayor and the police force all breathing down Harry's neck, Harry finds himself between a rock and a hard place.’
      • ‘As an investor, you are between a rock and a hard place if your company faces bankruptcy.’
      • ‘Thus, some workers may find themselves between a rock and a hard place after the normal retirement age is raised.’
      • ‘Both she and the bank were between a rock and a hard place.’
      • ‘The army chief is certainly caught between a rock and a hard place.’
      • ‘Rex to Miles: ‘My wife has me between a rock and a hard place.’’
      • ‘It's a classic example of audiences putting composers between a rock and a hard place.’
  • get one's rocks off

    • 1vulgar slang Have an orgasm.

      1. 1.1Obtain pleasure or satisfaction.
  • on the rocks

    • 1informal (of a relationship or enterprise) experiencing difficulties and likely to fail.

      • ‘The elder daughter finds to her consternation that her marriage is on the rocks.’
      • ‘Her parents' marriage is on the rocks as she embarks upon a career in television news.’
      • ‘Like many American men of 35-40 today, he's adrift, not sure where the stream of life may take him now that his original life plan is all messed up and pretty much on the rocks.’
      • ‘He may have been lucky in business, but his marriage is on the rocks, his daughter barely speaks to him and even his friend, Francis, holds little interest.’
      • ‘At the time of making the film, the director's own marriage was on the rocks and he was romantically involved with an actress.’
      • ‘He finds himself a single dad, with a career on the rocks, living in New Jersey with his father.’
      • ‘Feigning being in love and making googly eyes isn't too much of a challenge; convincingly portraying a long-time couple whose relationship is on the rocks is the tough part.’
      • ‘My relationship has been on the rocks ever since my boyfriend left our ballet company to join a dance troupe in another state.’
      • ‘His relationship with Sissy on the rocks, Bud takes to practicing bull riding.’
      • ‘This film is a tragicomic ensemble piece about people on the edge and love on the rocks.’
      in difficulty, in trouble, breaking down, practically over, heading for divorce, heading for the divorce courts
      View synonyms
    • 2informal (of a drink) served undiluted and with ice cubes.

      • ‘He starts smoking an exclusive brand of cigarette and drinking single malt whisky on the rocks.’
      • ‘While ‘celebrating’ in the hotel lounge (her idea of a party is scotch on the rocks and a corner to herself), she runs into Paula.’
      • ‘When not ‘landing’ a big client, she cares for her aging father, and sexes it up with her fiancé, who looks like he drinks Vitalis on the rocks.’
      • ‘My favorite drink is malt scotch, either on the rocks or with a splash of soda and a twist.’
      • ‘There were a number of still lifes, including Dina's Nikes, a pair of red running shoes against a field of creamy white, and a painting of two glasses of Scotch on the rocks sitting on a black table.’
      • ‘This film is the thematic and cinematic equivalent of scotch on the rocks: golden and fiery, burning the throat, but continually surrounded and chilled by giant blocks of ice.’
      with ice, on ice
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French rocque, from medieval Latin rocca, of unknown ultimate origin.




Main definitions of rock in US English:

: rock1rock2



  • 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’
    ‘the rocking movement of the boat’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I guess you just get use to being rocked to sleep every night.’
    • ‘As he cuddles his teddy bear, she rocks him to sleep.’
    • ‘She rocked herself to and fro, and the tears gathered in her eyes and slowly trickled down her cheeks.’
    • ‘As of this week, he no longer wants to be rocked 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.’
    • ‘Some women started cooking meal under trees while some others gently rocked makeshift cradles hanging from tree branches.’
    move to and fro, move backwards and forwards, move back and forth, sway, swing, see-saw
    View synonyms
    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.
      no object ‘the building began to rock on its foundations’
      with object ‘another blast rocked the ship and threw him from his chair’
      • ‘For the second day, a suicide blast rocked the city of Tal Afar.’
      • ‘Brimstone's ship was violently rocked by the explosions, but still managed to maintain their shields.’
      • ‘Situated in a sensitive seismic zone, the country has been rocked by many earthquakes.’
      • ‘Both films take place in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that rocked northern Iran in 1990, killing nearly 50,000 people.’
      • ‘Just then, the ship was rocked by an explosion.’
      • ‘An explosion rocks downtown London and shuts down the city.’
      • ‘He is awake in the middle of the night and he feels as if the hotel is being rocked by an earthquake.’
      • ‘Then the entire world was rocked by a massive earthquake, which killed more than half the population.’
      shake, vibrate, quake, tremble
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Cause great shock or distress to (someone or something), especially so as to weaken or destabilize them or it.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘When tumultuous events rocked the world he soon forgot her.’
      • ‘Merciless in its intensity, uncompromising in its brutality, this film will rock you to your core.’
      • ‘This incident rocked the Canadian province of Newfoundland.’
      • ‘It rocks her contented world to its foundations when she discovers that her husband is having an affair.’
      • ‘In the past two months, the fund industry has been rocked by allegations of ethical lapses.’
      • ‘One young girl knows secrets that could rock this union to its core, and she's on the run.’
      • ‘Boudu rocks the household to its foundation with boorish behavior and manners befitting a beast.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Your utter disregard for everything that is good and decent has rocked the very foundation upon which our society is built.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All this took place in Cincinnati which was rocked by riots and violent protests in the preceding weeks.’
      • ‘Mary's perfect little world is about to be rocked in a serious way.’
      • ‘In 1839, the seeds of the civil rights earthquake that would rock the United States were sprinkled on a Spanish schooner named La Amistad.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The international tennis scene has been rocked by a series of drug stories.’
      • ‘In 1974, when the Watergate revelations were rocking the presidency, the would-be assassin went over the edge.’
      • ‘But even though my atheism was not rocked during the writing of Quarantine, it was changed.’
      stun, shock, stagger, astound, astonish, amaze, startle, surprise, dumbfound, daze, shake, shake up, set someone back on their heels, take aback, throw, unnerve, disconcert
      View synonyms
  • 2informal no object Dance to or play rock music.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In this case, the screen was bigger, the score was louder and the crowd was rocking.’
    • ‘If the crowd is not rocking to this one beat, you gotta get it out and get the next record in.’
    • ‘Whatever may happen in the future, the band are rocking hard in the present.’
    • ‘Each of these rhythm and blues legends had the hall rocking to the sounds of the Sixties.’
    • ‘Despite the odd venue choice, Billy Corgan and his openers still rocked out.’
    1. 2.1 (of a place) have an atmosphere of excitement or much social activity.
      ‘the new town really rocks’
      ‘a rocking resort’
  • 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’


  • 1Rock music.

    as modifier ‘a rock star’
    • ‘One reason I really like the '70s era of rock, besides the fact I was a young man then, was that it was an era where musicians really tried to reach for the pinnacle of their abilities in their music.’
    • ‘Before disco undermined the morale and minds of millions, rock rode the rails of success, scoring the soundtrack for that personal motion picture you were playing in your head.’
    • ‘I was a fan of the band back in the '60s, before I got turned on to harder rock.’
    • ‘The debt owed to past blues musicians by the giants of the rock industry - Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin among others - becomes apparent when you listen to their music.’
    • ‘He beat out no less than Sting and Paul McCartney, two rock idols who performed their own nominated songs.’
    • ‘My dad had booked a special reunion concert by 80s rock legends, Dire Straits.’
    • ‘Jill looked stunning, but she wasn't really dressed for a rock concert.’
    • ‘He had organised a rock concert to coincide with one of the city's major sporting events.’
    • ‘This is about as close to the sensory overload of a rock concert without actually being at a rock concert.’
    • ‘The movie is a disappointment, and could have been a lot better if only he had gone out on a few more limbs than just the inclusion of a few rock tunes.’
    • ‘The alternative rock soundtrack is wonderfully raw as it blares from the speakers.’
    • ‘The book tells of William's initiation into journalism and his adventures in the rock industry.’
    • ‘Back in the '60s and '70s I listened to Gordon Lightfoot a fair bit when I wanted to take a break from the harder rock that was the staple of my listening.’
    • ‘We were all squealing like kids at a rock concert.’
    • ‘Rock movies, like rock songs, need not be original to be successful: get the chords right and the arrangements scarcely matter.’
    • ‘The music is a bizarre score of upbeat string numbers, samba tunes, jazz numbers, rock ballads, and every other style thrown together in a peculiar 1980s-esque synthesized sort of way.’
    1. 1.1 Rock and roll.
      • ‘It made me want to run out and start a rockabilly band to pay tribute to rock's greatest geek.’
      • ‘It is a film for everyone, both those who were touched by this era of rock and those who just remember that fleeting second when the world didn't slow down.’
  • 2in singular A gentle movement to and fro or from side to side.

    ‘she placed the baby in the cradle and gave it a rock’

Phrasal Verbs

  • rock out

    • Perform rock music loudly and vigorously.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Merely watching the two beautiful females in the group rock out is enough.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For whatever reason, I believe band possesses this propensity for rocking out.’
      • ‘The Canadian guitar god should have been dressed in a schoolboy uniform as he rocked out like AC/DC throughout the performance.’
      • ‘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.’


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.