One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Ornamental or decorative work resembling rocks or shells.
2Rocks and shells used to create ornamental figures and designs as decoration for a grotto or other garden feature. Compare "rocaille". Chiefly historical after 18th cent.
3A natural mass or group of rocks.
4Stones roughly piled together in imitation of natural rocks as an ornamental garden feature, especially a rockery.
5Architecture. Masonry with a rough projecting face, giving the appearance of natural, freshly quarried rock. Compare rustic work. Now rare.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in William Foster (b. 1591), Church of England clergyman and writer. From rock + work.
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