Difference Between Rocks and Stones

Rocks vs Stones


Although most of us confuse rocks and stones and consider them as the same, there exists a clear difference between rocks and stones. First let us define the two words. A rock is the hard material of the earth’s crust. It is normally exposed on the surface of the earth or sometimes underlying the soil. A stone, on the other hand, is a solid non-metallic mineral matter of which a rock is made. In fact, it can be said that stones constitute what is called a rock. This is the main difference between a rock and stone. Through this article let us examine this difference further.

What is a Rock?

Geologically a rock is defined as any natural material hard or soft consisting of one or more minerals. You would find a mass of rock projecting and forming a hill, rift or cliff. One of the finest of such projections is the Rock of Gibraltar. One of the key characteristics of a rock is that is relatively large. They are also immovable.

The word rock is used to indicate that an individual is hard or has a lot of strength and endurance. Observe the usage of the word ‘rock’ in expressions like ‘rock-hearted man.’ In this sense, it can imply that the individual is insensitive and callous.  Now let us move on to the next word.

Difference Between Rocks and Stones

The Rock of Gibraltar

What is a Stone?

A stone is a solid non-metallic mineral matter. Unlike a rock that is a large piece, a stone is a small piece. One of the key differences between a rock and a stone is that while rocks can be both soft and hard, stones can only be hard, and they cannot be soft for that matter. A stone can be lifted or pelted quite easily. However, a rock cannot be lifted or pelted easily. This is because of the fact that rocks are heavier than the stones. This is understandable since rocks are made up of several stones.

It is interesting to note that in some countries both the words rocks and stones are interchangeable in their usage. You might have observed the usage of the word ‘gem’ in the description of another word, namely, ‘gemstone’. In fact, the usage of ‘gemrock’ is unheard of. Unlike rocks that are immovable, stones are movable from one place to another place.

Rocks vs Stones

What is the Difference Between Rocks and Stones?

Definitions of Rocks and Stones:

Rock: Any natural material hard or soft consisting of one or more minerals.

Stone: A small, hard solid, moveable non-metallic mineral matter.

Characteristics of Rocks and Stones:


Rock: A rock is comparatively larger.

Stone: A stone is comparatively small.


Rock: A rock is immovable.

Stone: A stone is movable


Rock: A rock can be either hard or soft.

Stone: A stone is usually hard solid


Image Courtesy:

1. View of the Rock of Gibraltar from its south tip By Michael Bryan from Brussels, UK/Belgium (The Rock and La Linea  Uploaded by ecemaml) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Renvyle beach stones (3585122829) By michael clarke stuff (Renvyle beach stones Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

  • http://www.facebook.com/carol.phelps.560 Carol Phelps

    I don’t agree. Rocks aren’t always large; they can be tiny. For example, one might say, “I have a rock in my shoe”. Often people use the words “rock” and “stone” as synonyms to mean the same thing. The one difference is that the word “rock” implies something that was formed naturally. If people cut rock into pieces and then use that for building or making things, you’d call it stone. For example, you wouldn’t talk about a “rock building” or a “rock bridge”; you’d call it a “stone building” or a “stone bridge”. Jewelry is not made out of “gemrocks”; it is made out of “gemstones”.