rocks and stones

Barnhart barnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM
Wed Nov 19 21:33:16 UTC 2003

Dear me, I haven't been following this one for a number of reasons and I
haven't got the time to go through everything that's been written in this

As I recall from geology class, rocks are mixtures of minerals hence
"rocks and minerals".  Stones were undifferentiated rocks.

I can say that there's a stone in my shoe.  But, I think I'd be more
likely to say there's a rock in my shoe (or maybe a pebble).

There is in Hyde Park (NY) a stone wall restoration project.  But I can
say either rock wall or stone wall.  I think the latter is my preference.

I can skip stones or rocks.  But I think I'd be inclined to say stones.

I'd say stone barge not rock barge.  I'd say rock quarry before stone

And, finally, stone's throw is a set phrase.  I would be surprised to find
"rock's throw."

More later.  By the way, is anyone keepting tabs on these?

David Barnhart

American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> writes:
>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       "Kathleen E. Miller" <millerk at NYTIMES.COM>
>Subject:      Re: rocks and stones
>Stone, to me, in general means the mineral/material itself. A rock is a
>piece of that.The wall is made of stone as opposed to concrete or masonry.
>But the stone wall is made up of a bunch of rocks one got at the Stone
>Quarry. The patio is made of flagstone but it's just bunch of flat rocks.
>I would never say there's a stone in my shoe, or let's go skip stones, it
>is, alas just a stone's throw, however. [Sigh]. Which makes me go along
>with the smoothness, craggy- ness explanation. The shiny, round, polished
>things that are in the vase which holds my "lucky (HA!) bamboo" are
>The rough, grey things I dig up in the garden outside are rocks.
>(Of course when my boyfriend the landscaper/mason came home with a
>truckload of rough, red, varying in size and shape ROCKS, his comment to
>upon my question, "What's with the rocks?" was "Those aren't rocks, it's
>SENECA STONE" -- blew my theory all to hell. His theory (native Marylander
>and, harking back to an earlier discussion, proud to call himself and be
>called a TERP) is that rocks are unadulterated, stones were cut for a
>Kathleen E. Miller
>Research Assistant to William Safire
>The New York Times

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