Posted: 15 February 2013 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  3762
Joined  2007-02-26

About how old is the use of the verb rock to mean “wear, esp. stylishly or ostentatiously?

Is it thought to come to us via an older meaning of rock, “dance to a beat”, (which I gather is from the 1950s)? Or just the general verb meaning to sway?

Or something else.

Posted: 15 February 2013 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  2694
Joined  2007-01-30

This one sidled by when I wasn’t looking, OP, but I see it’s in OED under rock, v, 1 and it’s been around for years.

12 c. To wear, esp. with panache; to display, flaunt, or sport (as a personally distinctive style, accessory, possession, etc.).

1987 ‘Boogie Down Productions’ Elementary (transcript of song) in (O.E.D. archive) , Watchin all these females rock their pants too tight.

I’d say it’s a natural extension of sense 10d

10 d. slang (orig. U.S.). To be full of energy, life, and excitement; to be excellent. Freq. in exclamatory phrase —— rocks!

1969 Times-Bull. (Van Wert, Ohio) 3 Oct. 2 (advt.) Bored? Uptight? In a box? Weekend bowling really rocks!

BTW earliest cite for dance to a beat seems to be 1938, sense 9b

9 b. colloq. (orig. U.S. Jazz slang). To cause to dance or move rhythmically to music; to enthuse or thrill with a musical performance. Also: to instil or inspire with energy or enthusiasm; (broadly) to impress.Also with a location as object.

1938 C. Calloway Cat-ologue: Hepster’s Dict., Rock me, send me.

Posted: 15 February 2013 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  3298
Joined  2007-01-31

Wow, I have definitely been taken in by the recency illusion!  I’m amazed to see what I thought was very recent slang listed in the OED.

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