1. Also called runner. one of the curved pieces on which a cradle or a rocking chair rocks.
  2. rocking chair.
  3. a performer or fan of rock-‘n’-roll. music.
  4. a rock-‘n’-roll song: She sang a ballad and followed that with two of her well-known rockers.
  5. any of various devices that operate with a rocking motion.
  6. Graphic Arts. a small steel plate with one curved and toothed edge for roughening a copperplate to make a mezzotint.
  7. Mining. cradle(def 13).
  8. an ice skate that has a curved blade.
  1. off one’s rocker, Slang. insane; crazy: You’re off your rocker if you think I’m going to climb that mountain.

verb (used without object)

  1. to move or sway to and fro or from side to side.
  2. to be moved or swayed powerfully with excitement, emotion, etc.
  3. Mining. (of sand or gravel) to be washed in a cradle.
  4. to dance to or play rock music.
  5. (of popular music) to have the driving beat characteristic of rock.
  6. Slang. to be very good, impressive, exciting, or effective: This show really rocks.

verb (used with object)

  1. 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.
  2. to lull in security, hope, etc.
  3. to affect deeply; stun; move or sway powerfully, as with emotion: Everyone in the courtroom was rocked by the verdict.
  4. to shake or disturb violently: A thunderous explosion rocked the waterfront.
  5. Slang.
    1. to stir up; animate: We’re gonna rock this joint tonight!
    2. 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.
  6. Graphic Arts. to roughen the surface of (a copperplate) with a rocker preparatory to scraping a mezzotint.
  7. Mining. cradle(def 22).


  1. a rocking movement: the gentle rock of the boat.
  2. rock-‘n’-roll(def 1).


  1. rock-‘n’-roll(def 2).
  1. rock the boat, Informal. to disrupt the smooth functioning or routine of something: Don’t rock the boat by demanding special treatment from management.


  1. any of various devices that transmit or operate with a rocking motionSee also rocker arm
  2. another word for rocking chair
  3. either of two curved supports on the legs of a chair or other article of furniture on which it may rock
  4. a steel tool with a curved toothed cage, used to roughen the copper plate in engraving a mezzotint
  5. mining another word for cradle (def. 9)
    1. an ice skate with a curved blade
    2. the curve itself
  6. skating
    1. a figure consisting of three interconnecting circles
    2. a half turn in which the skater turns through 180°, so facing about while continuing to move in the same direction
  7. a rock-music performer, fan, or song
  8. British an adherent of a youth movement rooted in the 1950s, characterized by motorcycle trappingsCompare mod 1
  9. off one’s rocker slang crazy; demented


  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

“a rocking chair,” 1852, American English, from rock (v.1); earlier “nurse charged with rocking a cradle” (early 14c.). In sense of “one of the curved pieces of wood that makes a chair or cradle rock” it dates from 1787. Slang off (one’s) rocker “crazy” first recorded 1897. Meaning “one who enjoys rock music” (as opposed to mod (n.1)) is recorded from 1963, from rock (v.2).


“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.


“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.


“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.

see off one’s head (rocker).

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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