on the rocks

on the rocks


  1. a large mass of stone forming a hill, cliff, promontory, or the like.
  2. Geology.
    1. mineral matter of variable composition, consolidated or unconsolidated, assembled in masses or considerable quantities in nature, as by the action of heat or water.
    2. a particular kind of such matter: igneous rock.
  3. stone in the mass: buildings that stand upon rock.
  4. a stone of any size.
  5. something resembling or suggesting a rock.
  6. a firm foundation or support: The Lord is my rock.
  7. Chiefly British. a kind of hard candy, variously flavored.
  8. rock candy.
  9. Often rocks. Slang.
    1. a piece of money.
    2. a dollar bill.
  10. Slang.
    1. a diamond.
    2. any gem.
  11. Slang.
    1. crack(def 33).
    2. a pellet or lump of crack.


  1. between a rock and a hard place, between undesirable alternatives.
  2. get one’s rocks off, Slang: Vulgar. to have an orgasm.
  3. on the rocks,
    1. Informal.in or into a state of disaster or ruin: Their marriage is on the rocks.
    2. Informal.without funds; destitute; bankrupt.
    3. (of a beverage, especially liquor or a cocktail) with, or containing, ice cubes: Scotch on the rocks; a vodka martini on the rocks.


  1. 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 coalSee also igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic
  2. any hard mass of consolidated mineral matter, such as a boulder
  3. mainly US, Canadian and Australian a stone
  4. a person or thing suggesting a rock, esp in being dependable, unchanging, or providing firm foundation
  5. British a hard sweet, typically a long brightly-coloured peppermint-flavoured stick, sold esp in holiday resorts
  6. slang a jewel, esp a diamond
  7. short for rock salmon
  8. (plural) slang the testicles
  9. slang another name for crack (def. 29)
  10. between a rock and a hard place having to choose between two equally unpleasant alternatives
  11. on the rocks
    1. in a state of ruin or destitution
    2. (of drinks, esp whisky) served with ice


  1. to move or cause to move from side to side or backwards and forwards
  2. to reel or sway or cause (someone) to reel or sway, as with a violent shock or emotion
  3. (tr) to shake or move (something) violently
  4. (intr) to dance in the rock-and-roll style
  5. mining to wash (ore) or (of ore) to be washed in a cradle
  6. (tr) to roughen (a copper plate) with a rocker before engraving a mezzotint
  7. (tr) 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
  8. rock the boat informal to create a disturbance in the existing situation


  1. a rocking motion
  2. short for rock and roll
  3. Also called: rock music any of various styles of pop music having a heavy beat, derived from rock and roll

noun the Rock

  1. an informal name for Gibraltar
  2. a Canadian informal name for Newfoundland

n.1“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. v.1“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. v.2“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. n.2“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.

  1. American gynecologist and obstetrician who helped develop the first effective oral contraceptive in 1954.

  1. 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.
  2. A piece of such material; a stone.

1Ruined, spoiled, as in Six months after the wedding, their marriage was on the rocks. This expression, alluding to a ship running aground on rocks and breaking apart, has been used figuratively for other disasters since the late 1800s. 2Served over ice only, as in He always drinks whiskey on the rocks. The “rocks” here are the ice cubes. [Mid-1900s] 3Destitute, bankrupt, as in Can I borrow next month’s rent? I’m on the rocks. This usage, from the late 1800s, is heard more often in Britain than America. In addition to the idioms beginning with rock

  • rock bottom
  • rocks in one’s head, have
  • rock the boat
  • also see:

  • between a rock and a hard place
  • on the rocks
  • steady as a rock
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