Nope. This is no expose on Mick Jagger. We’re looking into semantics today.
Did you know when you are picking up souvenir rocks at the beach you are actually picking up stones? Truly.
Rocks from morguefile
We may only think that “rock” and “stone” are interchangeable. They technically aren’t, yet like most of our language, we throw actuality out the window and go for ease of saying.
Stones by morguefile
Here are the distinguishing facts:
Rock: Usually large, immovable natural material made up of one or more minerals that is hard or soft in composition.
Stone: Most often a harder, smaller, moveable mineral matter.
A rock is comparatively larger.
A stone is comparatively small.
A rock is not usually moved, being it is part of the earth as in The Rock of Gibraltar.
A stone can be picked up as in gemstones.
A rock can be hard or soft in material composition.
A stone is hard.
Now–how does that transfer into everyday expressions?
We say, “He’s solid. He’s a rock of strength. He’s immovable, and can’t be swayed.” And right about here is where the Rock of Gibraltar is bandied about.
Looking over the checklist of facts, it looks pretty good, metaphorically speaking.
Let’s move on…
“She’s got a heart of stone.” This is not a compliment. To be solid as a rock is considered a positive attribute; however, your heart should not be hard and it should be movable. Wait, stones are movable. Wouldn’t that mean that person could change her outlook?
Or doesn’t it follow that a rock solid person would have a heart of stone because the heart is a part of the body and is smaller and can be moved more easily?
Bookmark that thought.
A. We collect rocks along the shoreline to perhaps add them to our rock garden.
B. A diamond is a precious gemstone and set in a ring it’s touted as “quite a rock.” [right for gemstone, wrong for rock]
C. Loud electronic music is considered “rock” and some will enhance the listening experience by being “stoned.” [not sure]
Now that you know the difference, be sure you don’t get caught between a rock and a hard place in your terms.